July 20, 2016
Rose-Hulman senior mechanical engineering major Andrew Rodriguez is discovering innovative solutions for Probo Medical, a Fishers-based company that refurbishes worn or damaged ultrasound probes.
The high price of medical equipment is a main driver of rising health care costs, but one Indianapolis startup is making life-saving technology more affordable.
Probo Medical specializes in refurbishing worn or damaged ultrasound probes—the devices that glide over a patient’s body to produce sonogram images on a screen. Thanks to Probo, doctors, clinics, and hospitals can get top-quality probes for about half the cost.
“Part of our focus is to save the health care industry money, so they can pass those savings on to the patient,” says Zach Wills, Probo’s chief revenue officer.
Because ultrasound probes are handled daily, they break, wear out, or malfunction more frequently than the larger sonogram machines they are attached to. Unfortunately, however, “when a probe goes down, the whole machine goes down,” Wills says.
Because a probe can falter for a wide variety of reasons, and because there are so many different types, the engineering challenges involved in returning them to top-quality condition are daunting.
Probo Medical brings a list of challenges to Ventures each month, says Kyle Takenaga, director of repair development for the company. Ventures engineers assess the list, quickly determine which problems can be tackled, and get busy solving them.
“We consider RHV to be our research and development engineering team,” Wills says. “They are incredibly flexible and have a wide array of engineering capabilities to tackle anything we throw at them.”
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology student interns are an important part of the process, Takenaga adds. “Their minds are wide open, and that’s important. For this work, there are no manuals.”
The worldwide market for refurbished medical equipment is growing rapidly thanks to an aging population and the modernization of health care services in emerging economies, such as India and Latin America.
“Once I joined Probo Medical and learned how we were using Ventures, I was really excited,” says Mike Hoffa, Probo’s chief operating officer and a 1990 Rose-Hulman mechanical engineering alumnus. “I’ve had such good experiences with Ventures at previous companies that I knew we had a great resource to help us with our engineering and process development needs.”