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A medical equipment manufacturer usually develops, produces, and services medical products for commercial and individual clients. The typical manufacturer is involved in extensive research and development into the next generation of medical equipment. These products can advance from the factory to medical offices and retail outlets in some cases after extensive quality review and field testing. Manufacturers may be able to increase sales through educational programs and advertising to target audiences. The final step for medical equipment manufacturers is delivering the device to an institutional client or other venue.
Research and development in the medical equipment industry requires years of investment. The industry can often be divided into general manufacturers and niche companies. A general manufacturer will develop hundreds of medical products ranging from hearing aids to MRI machines to reach a wider customer base. Most niche companies may be engaged in developing products for a particular ailment, medical specialty, or procedure.
The research and development process may yield medical equipment that will be useful for public health. This equipment is released to hospitals and practitioners only after significant testing. Many manufacturers have multiple layers of quality assurance testing to avoid defective parts and poor performance. Prototypes of medical equipment are sometimes distributed to physicians and health clinics for use in a controlled environment. A medical equipment manufacturer may also host demonstrations of its newest products at conferences and technology expos.
The path from field testing to widespread distribution can also be paved with public education programs. These programs may include presentations at medical conferences attended by doctors and hospital administrators. Another educational tool for a medical equipment manufacturer may be special inserts in health magazines and medical journals. Another approach to educating the public about medical equipment is through large-scale advertising on television and radio.
A major source of revenue for a medical equipment manufacturer usually comes from institutional sales. A regional hospital may purchase electrocardiogram machines, wheel chairs, and respirators from a medical equipment manufacturer. A manufacturer might also sell its equipment to nursing homes, health clinics, and doctor's offices. Institutional customers often request installation and repair services from their medical equipment suppliers. The manufacturer will typically send maintenance crews on regular routes to handle equipment maintenance and repairs for their clients.
Certain products can be sold to individual consumers through certified retailers. These retailers typically receive sales and maintenance training from the manufacturer necessary to serve their customers. An individual in need of a heart monitor or blood pressure meter, for example, may be able to purchase these products as well as service plans at a local certified retailer. Many medical equipment manufacturers have been reducing expenses by selling certain products directly to customers through online stores.