A Global Marketplace for Excess Medical Supplies
By ANNE LINDBERG, TB Reporter
The Index, based in the Largo area, is designed to make it easy for hospitals and doctors with unused surgical devices to find buyers – anywhere in the world.
LARGO – During the five years Jon Bird spent selling medical devices he noticed a lot of waste built into the system.
For example, a hospital would order a case of a certain brand of trocars – an instrument used in surgery to open a hole in the body so a surgeon can insert a camera or tool – because a doctor preferred that brand.
Then the surgeon would move on to another city or hospital having used only one or two of those particular trocars. If they weren’t what other surgeons on staff needed or preferred, they would sit until their use-by date expired.
At the same time, a small rural hospital might need just one trocar rather than a whole case. But there was no way to buy just one and the smaller hospital might not be able to afford a whole case.
But there was no easy way for the large hospital and the smaller hospital to get together to help each other out.
So Bird came up with an idea. He called it The Index. The goal, he said, was to save money and equipment and make it easy for hospitals, clinics and doctors to find each other and to use the medical/surgical supply resale market.
That was about two years ago. Now, he’s about more than double the warehouse space of the Index’s offices off Bryan Dairy Road. He’s also about to expand his idea to the Dallas, Atlanta, and Birmingham, AL, markets.
Bird said he believes The Index is unique in the way it brings buyers and sellers together in the secondary medical resale market.
The Index offers sellers a choice when it comes to selling surplus medical instruments.
One is somewhat like eBay where the seller can list what he has for sale. The seller and the buyer can come to an agreement on the price and the amount.
The other is more like the Amazon model. The Index holds the excess goods in a warehouse, negotiates with the buyers, and ships the product to them.
Under either method, the buyer can purchase just one item, or cases of items – whatever is needed. And, the prices are more transparent, Bird said.
“They’re getting a much clearer picture of what they should pay,” Bird said.
In the long run, he said, that should help bring medical costs down.
As it is, the medical device market is $150 billion globally and growing. The medical/surgical supply resale market is a niche valued at hundreds of millions of dollars.
But waste in the medical supply chain takes a toll, adding up to billions annually because of excess and unneeded supplies.
With a scattered supply chain, reselling is hard. Hospitals have neither the time nor resources to efficiently manage their inventory and find a potential buyer for excess medical supplies. And doctors or small clinics and hospitals may not be able to find a place to buy “just one” single-use surgical device that a patient needs.
The Index provides a kind of one-stop shop for disposable surgical and medical devices where buyers and sellers can easily find each other. A buyer can also set up a “wish list” of items that are needed. It’s global. The seller might be in Florida while the buyer is in Australia.
Eventually, Bird said, those savings should trickle down to the patient who could also see lower costs.
For information about The Index, go to mysurgicalindex.com.
Photos courtesy of The Index. Main photo shows Jon Bird, founder of The Index, as he shows off a surgical tissue sealer tool, a commonly bought item on The Index.
The Index | Jon Bird | Medical Supplies | Business | Sale of Medical Supplies | Health Care | Tampa Bay News | TB Reporter
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