When Good Deals Go Bad

We humans are always looking for a good deal. On cars. Clothes. On a holiday package. Any way to save  some money, right?

It’s like that at work, too. Saving the company some money is a good thing. It feels great to find a cheaper option or negotiate a lower rate on a contract. Bosses like it. The bottom line likes it. What’s not to like about a good deal?

The truth is good deals aren’t always what they seem. Good deals have a way of going bad, terribly bad. We’ve seen it happen time and again in the industry when suppliers choose ultra low priced options, often Chinese-made, mattresses over quality. At first blush, we can’t blame people. If someone said they could save us 40 percent, we’d jump on it. 

The stakes are different in the healthcare industry.  When a patient’s health, and in some cases life, is on the line, there’s no room for error. Bad deals can also cause irreparable harm to a company’s brand.

Before you jump on a “good deal” offered by a mattress manufacturer for OEM or ODM purposes, here are five things to consider:

1) Quality of Materials.
In most cases, pressure-care mattresses have a top cover made using a two- to four-way stretch, waterproof polyurethane material. The purpose is to prevent body fluids from leaking into the mattress as well as to facilitate cleaning. If the material fails, whether it’s a tear or a hole along the seams, body fluids will penetrate and thus stain and contaminate the mattress and inner cells. This creates a serious infection control hazard that threatens the health of patients as well as others in contact with the mattress.

Unfortunately, it is fairly common for the polyurethane coating on cheaper, often Chinese mattresses, to start peeling and generally degrading in patches after a short period of time, in some cases in as little as six months. Often, the waterproof coating isn’t waterproof at all. Without the protective coating, the mattress is worthless—a bad deal. In contrast, Caremed manufactures nearly all of the materials and major components used in the construction of our mattresses, including the polyurethane coating and textiles. Our materials have been rigorously tested to ensure optimal performance, customer confidence and patient safety. Better to pay more for quality materials that perform as promised.

Lower quality and shorter lifespan of textiles has proven to be one of the biggest risks when sourcing from low cost suppliers

Common example of fluid ingress from a failed cover

2) Quality of Design.
Not all pressure mattresses are created equally. Some are very well designed and others are poorly designed. Companies may cut corners on design to cut costs. Common issues with poorly designed mattresses are key components like the air cells coming loose and rolling out of position on the base. This compromises the pressure care function and comfort level of the mattress for the patient.

Another common design issue occurs with the pump where the air pressure doesn’t correlate with the control dials and there’s no way to easily calibrate the settings. It’s not uncommon to set one of these good deal pumps on a low pressure, softer setting and have the mattress hard as a rock. This obviously does nothing for the patient’s comfort and health, but does tend to frustrate caregivers. The solution is to choose a manufacturer with a reputation for quality. Quality costs more, but a quality product is also designed to last.

Poorly designed cell loops and low quality mattress bases have been a serious issue with lower cost manufacturers according to independent servicing company Carequip

“Workmanship is critical to how a mattress system performs. A poorly built mattress with a simple thing like cable ties not cleanly cut will chafe inflated mattress cells. Over time, this may cause small punctures in the mattress covering. While this doesn’t cause an immediate failure, punctures make the compressor work harder than it should, causing it to overheat and begin to breakdown. Before the system fails entirely, the loose carbon that comes from the magnet inside the compressor travels through all of the mattress airways and rotary valve. It gets to a point where you have a failed cell, a weak and noisy compressor, and damaged airways and rotary valve…. All because of a sharp cable tie!” Colin Hayes, Senior Service Engineer, Carequip

3) Quality Control.
Whether you’re purchasing a manufacturer-designed mattress system or using your own design, you and the manufacturer have an agreed-upon set of specifications. Quality control processes are typically based on these specs so that you get what you ordered and paid for. Unfortunately, cheaper and less reputable manufacturers may change specifications without authorisation to cut costs. (They’ve got to pay for that good deal they gave you some how!)

At Caremed, quality and safety are non-negotiable. The company ISO 13485 certified for medical devices, reflecting the importance of quality standards and control throughout our production processes. We maintain Design Master Records (DMR) so that when specifications are agreed upon with a customer, the specifications are locked down. If any amendments are made, the DMR is opened and a new engineering approved by the customer is added. If all of that sounds impressive, we also fully check and test 100 percent of the pumps and mattresses we manufacture.

From advanced vibration and sound level testing, to strength and permeability testing on their fabrics, Caremed implement the highest levels of quality control ensuring peace of mind consistency on every product batch

4) Mattress Warranty.
It’s common throughout Europe and North America for products to have a warranty issued to the purchaser by the manufacturer that promises to repair or replace the product if necessary within a specified period of time. This is not always the case with low cost pressure mattresses, which are typically “what you see is what you get.” Reputable manufacturers like Caremed include warranty or replacement guarantee in the event something goes wrong. We view it as an investment in the relationship with our customers and ultimately in the wellbeing of those using our mattresses. It may cost more, but it’s worth it.

5) Customer Service.
Good deal mattress systems are often missing a critical component: Customer Service. Typically, there is no service after the sale. If you have a problem or have been shipped defective goods, it can be extremely difficult getting help from the Far East and often surprising how quickly everyone has difficulty communicating. Issues can take months to resolve if they are resolved at all. This is definitely a good deal gone bad!

Caremed considers Customer Service an integral part of every purchase. We have four locations across Europe that provide prompt, professional technical support and product service in the same time zone and in the same language. If needed, we have access to advanced technical support from our headquarters in Taiwan.

Everyone appreciates a good deal. However, a low price doesn’t always equal a good deal and in fact, often has painful consequences for your business, patients and your sanity. To learn more about Caremed’s suite of mattress systems and garments for treating and managing pressure ulcers and what a good deal really looks like, we invite you to contact us.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Back to Blog