From the August 2019 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
By Kevin Brinkman
System downtime. Those are two of the most frustrating and fearsome words in any medical imaging department. It means patients who need diagnoses aren’t being served and the healthcare facility is likely taking a financial hit.
The partners you choose to support your organization in servicing, maintaining and repairing medical imaging systems play a crucial role in ensuring reliability and reducing the chance that a scanner will sit idle, waiting for a field service engineer or a replacement part to arrive.
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A CT system or MRI that goes down for just 24 hours will easily cost a clinic tens of thousands in lost revenue. Plus, that patient may go to the clinic on the other side of town to get the imaging services and any follow-ups from a competitor.
Finding the right service provider
Whether you have imaging engineers employed in-house, work with engineers from an independent service organization (ISO) or are under contract to use the OEM’s engineers, you need to be able to trust and rely on the people who keep your systems running.
That seems obvious, yet some healthcare technology management (HTM) leaders hesitate to invest in training for in-house employees. Or those in procurement may look for the lowest-priced third-party option without considering other factors, such as the added value a partner brings to the table.
Others assume they can trust the OEM to provide the highest quality service and parts. In some cases, that may be absolutely true, but how do you know if the manufacturer or service provider is being transparent?
New or used?
A former colleague who once worked as a field service engineer for an imaging equipment manufacturer told some interesting stories about his experience. One thing he mentioned was how the OEM would blur the lines between what was a new replacement part and what was pre-owned and refurbished.
You deserve to know the details about replacement parts in your imaging systems and understand exactly what you’re paying to have installed.
The OEM business model
While you should trust the engineers your OEM provides to work on imaging systems that are under a service contract, you may also want to consider the manufacturer’s broader motivation. In general, manufacturers are focused on developing and selling new technology to HTMs.
That’s why you may be discouraged from keeping a system in place as it nears end of life (EOL), even though it could continue to serve a purpose in your department for years to come. The OEM’s focus on innovation and upselling can mean more resources are used on research and development and less go toward hiring expert imaging engineers to work in the field. In turn, that could mean you’re waiting an extra day for the engineer to arrive and provide service because he or she is at a site on the other side of the state.