New health care reform laws requiring hospitals to go paperless by 2014 encouraged a Ball State student enrolled in the entrepreneurship program
to market his newly designed, technology rich computer cart to the medical industry.
Eric Lundberg, ’11, of suburban Chicago, has brought Lund’s DataCart, a custom metal computer cart, to market months ahead of schedule and in only the first few months has produced about 500 units at his family’s company, Lund Industries of Wheeling, Illinois.
He says the small footprint, low center of gravity, smooth lift system, adaptability, and high strength of the DataCart make it the most user-friendly option on the market and meet the constantly evolving needs of doctors and nurses nationwide.
The hospital industry is in dire need of new equipment to improve efficiency due to the growing demands of an aging population coupled with increasing pressure from government agencies to standardize health records, streamline operations, and cut costs.
“My family’s company has specialized in developing emergency vehicle equipment since the late 1970s when we started making accessories for police vehicles,” says Lundberg, who designed the cart with mentoring from his father. “I wanted to get into the family business and began researching how the current production facilities could be used to meet the needs of the medical field. When I found out about the new paperless regulations, I thought hospitals would need moveable carts that could easily add computing systems and be extremely durable.”
By adding docking stations, the Lundberg’s new cart is designed to improve management and sharing of health records, thereby enhancing health care quality, reducing paperwork, and preventing medical errors.
“I did a lot of research by talking with hospital administrators, doctors, and nurses in Chicago and Indiana over the last year. Most said they were using plastic carts that were difficult to move and couldn’t handle tablets or laptops. Most nurses were having to write notes on paper and then go back to their desks to fill out forms on their large personal computers. It is a very unproductive way of doing things."China is on the Horizon
Lundberg says his primary market is value added resellers who will outfit the computer carts with software and hardware. A potential secondary market lies within the manufacturing industry in large warehouses or storage facilities with inventory tracking.
His research found that the $400 billion U.S. hospital industry is comprised of about 5,800 facilities. And while the U.S. market is the world’s most profitable, emerging markets in China, India, and the Middle East have been expanding and increasing their investments in health care—opening new opportunities for Lundberg and his new device.
“China has a booming economy that has created a group of middle class citizens who want improved health care and have put pressure on the government to make changes,” Lundberg says. “India is the next fastest growing country. With over a billion people and an expanding middle class, the need for improved health care service is growing fast, too.”Ahead of Schedule
Lundberg says he has worked with engineers with his family’s company to roll out his new product, even while he is finishing up his business plan, a requirement of Ball State’s entrepreneurship program.
“I speak with the engineers regularly, and we tweak the cart from time to time, which forces me to revise the business plan,” he says. “It’s a challenge, but we have to meet the demands of the market, while keeping an eye on costs, to keep the product competitively priced. When I graduate, I plan on expanding the medical cart division of the family business next door in an empty warehouse.”
Few full-time undergraduate students are able to successfully market their products before graduation, observes Michael Goldsby
, executive director of Ball State’s nationally recognized Entrepreneurship Center and Stoops distinguished professor of entrepreneurship. The center is a part of the Miller College of Business
“Eric is very driven and has been since the day he arrived at Ball State,” Goldsby says. “His innovation demonstrates a keen awareness of the needs of a particular industry.”Senior Sweat
Like many entrepreneurship students, Lundberg plans to formally launch his business as soon as he completes his undergraduate degree requirements. He will submit a business plan as part of the entrepreneurship program’s E-Day (Evaluation Day) in the spring.
A key feature of E-Day is a final pass-or fail-review
that requires seniors to put their degrees on the line when their business plans are scrutinized by a group of top business leaders just days before graduation. If they pass, students go on to receive their diplomas. Failure requires them to return the next year with a new or revised plan, or to seek another degree.