Don’t be fooled by low (or high) prices

Written By: 
Marc Blitstein / President & CEO
We’ve all learned some hard lessons about buying cheap: Products don’t hold up. Vendors or retailers don’t stand behind the sale. Money sadly wasted. It doesn’t really matter the industry, or the product, there always seem better (or worse) choices to be made. Yet choosing the highest-priced option isn’t always the solution, either.
 
Unfortunately, when it comes to core diagnostic products for blood pressure or temperature measurement, or essentials like stethoscopes, it’s not always easy to make a truly informed purchase decision.
 
For one thing, despite being a category regulated by the FDA, there’s a pretty low barrier to entry. Globalization and the internet have linked the world, making it a lot easier for companies to source and market these devices. In the 35 years ADC has been in business, we’ve competed against scores of firms. A handful have been around as long as we have, but most have come and gone.    
 
Although the average price of the products in this category is relatively low, even from the most expensive of brands, you still want to make sure you get your money’s worth. And while many come with extraordinarily long product warranties, those are of little value if a supplier isn’t around to service your device down the line. I can’t tell you how many products are mistakenly sent to us for service that were marketed by companies that are no longer in business. 
 
Notice I use the word “marketed,” and not “manufactured.” The vast majority of companies in the USA offering scopes, sphygs, and other core diagnostic products are NOT manufacturers. They don’t even design the products themselves, other than the packaging. They are merely, as the FDA labels them, “initial distributors of imported devices.” Many of these firms have little or no expertise in the products they offer; they simply purchase them from the lowest-cost Chinese manufacturer, sometimes even changing suppliers with each order. Because so many of these importers are small, they often escape the regulatory compliance and scrutiny that the largest players like ADC must endure (and, unfortunately, build into our pricing).  
 
A second problem is that there are only a few globally recognized brands. Unlike, say, in consumer electronics or automotive, a lot of purchases in our category are driven purely by price without any consideration for the brand or the quality. In some cases the products are part of a student, trauma, or other pre-packaged kit, in which the retailer sources individual items from the very cheapest manufacturers they can find. As a result, when asked about the brand of sphygmomanometer or stethoscope they own and use, many healthcare professionals often don’t know or get it wrong. And that only encourages some retailers to sell questionable products from unproven importers in order to save a few dollars. 
 
So does that mean you should purchase the most expensive brands? Not necessarily. The super-premium brands in these categories generally (but not always) make very fine products, the diagnostic equivalent of a Rolls Royce or a Bentley. If you can afford these brands, you probably won’t go wrong. But you might be surprised to find that the super-premium brands are often not as feature rich as a challenger brand like ADC, nor do they provide warranties as comprehensive. And the substantial mark-up you pay for the brands often doesn’t translate into proportionally better performance or improved durability. Instead, you may simply be paying for the prestige of owning the brand. If you are using your stethoscope only to take blood pressure, do you need a $250 cardiology style scope? Or even a $90 clinician model? Probably not.  
 
When looking for a particular diagnostic product, we suggest you research the category and narrow your choice down to a few recognized and trusted brands. Ask your colleagues, or instructors or fellow students if you’re still in school. Read as much as you can online. (But make sure the sources aren’t disguised e-commerce sites). Most of the leading manufacturers’ websites contain a wealth of information, including product videos. If possible, visit a local retailer and try out a few models side by side.
 
Once you’ve narrowed your selection, it’s tempting to look for the lowest-priced source, but again, be careful of what you may be giving up – things like liberal return privileges or product expertise that can help you make a final choice from dozens of options. These are professional devices, the tools of your trade, and you’re likely to need more or others over the course of your career, so it’s not a bad idea to develop a relationship with your medical instrument supplier, whether they be brick and mortar or e-commerce. With the power of the internet you should almost always be able to buy your diagnostic product for something less than the manufacturer’s MSRP. Sometimes considerably less.  
 
ADC is a leading manufacturer of core diagnostic products and personal instruments for healthcare. We design most of our products ourselves, then partner, often on an exclusive basis, with the world’s leading ISO-certified subcontractors. Final inspection, assembly, and packaging of most products is performed in our New York facility. We are one of the few firms in this category to have held both the prestigious ISO 9001 and ISO 13485 quality system certifications in the US.  
 
At ADC, we thoroughly research a market before we introduce a product.  If there’s a super-premium brand, we design our product to include more features and a better warranty, then price it 20% to 40% less, but only slightly higher than one of those cheaply built Chinese imports. We choose component or product subcontractors with a proven track record and audit their facilities regularly. Since most of our components are sourced in Asia, we maintain our own Quality Control offices in the region (in Japan, Taiwan, and China). ADC staff regularly inspect components at the source to ensure they meet or exceed international or even more stringent ADC standards. Then, once parts arrive in our U.S. facility, we utilize a wide array of specialized and often proprietary test equipment to ensure that every component, every product, meets or exceeds the most important standards there are: yours.  
 
We know this matters because we hear from so many customers who understand the difference between price and value. In the past few months alone customers have told us:

 

  • “Works better than a more expensive brand I purchased prior to this one.”
  • “Best deal on the market.” 
  • “So much more bang for your buck.”
  • “Great product. Even better price. Sound quality is definitely comparable to the much more expensive scopes I've had.”
  • This stethoscope and the warranty are well worth the money. Don't give into buying a more expensive stethoscope just due to the brand, save your money and get one of these.
So if you’re in the market for core diagnostic instruments, take a little extra time to explore all your options. Compare instruments on paper, and then in person if you’re able. And if you still have questions about what the ADC brand has to offer, give us a call: 1-800-ADC-2670. Our customer service team would love to help you find a perfect fit!