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Second-Hand Hazards

by A.F. Hutchinson, Copywriter | May 03, 2010
This report originally appeared in the April 2010 issue of DOTmed Business News

It's no secret that pre-owned medical equipment can help cash-strapped health care providers maintain their standards of care while saving money.

"Everyone's watching costs and looking to save while getting great service," says Eric Ellingson, managing partner for MedX, Inc., an Arlington Heights, Ill. nuclear medicine equipment supplier.

The high-speed collision of a faltering economy with uncertainties about health care reform is driving interest in remanufactured and refurbished devices such as gamma cameras.

"Everyone's keeping their eyes on health care reform and reimbursement, and becoming more and more cost-conscious," he notes.

In addition to creating new nuclear medicine products, Ericson's firm refurbishes nuclear medicine equipment from leading manufacturers, including GE, Siemens, Philips, Toshiba and ADAC. The firm estimates that clients can save from 30% to 50% on refurbished equipment and service contracts.

While MedX is one of many reputable device refurbishers that boost consumer confidence with a high degree of reliability, transparency and value-added bonuses such as radiation physics services and facility accreditation prep services, it is only one firm in a crowded sea of vendors.

In the push to trim costs, an ill-considered vendor choice can evaporate any desired ROI in a flash, may result in hefty outlays of cash on unplanned repairs and reconditioning, and in a worse case scenario, jeopardize a facility's accreditation. That's why it's critical to research a company you're planning to work with.

Caveat emptor

It's the buyer's responsibility to make sure that the device reseller is licensed or permitted to transport, install and service the equipment they sell. The difficulty of vetting resellers is driven by the degree of regulatory compliance mandated at the state level, and is less daunting in some places than others.

The FDA regulates OEM medical imaging equipment for safety and effectiveness; however,"'new-to-you' devices may be miles removed from the manufacturer's maintenance and calibration standards.

A 2007 Medicare and Medicaid Services standard requires that in order to maintain Medicare eligibility, independent diagnostic testing facilities must maintain their diagnostic imaging equipment in accordance with manufacturer maintenance and calibration requirements. In this case, choosing a company that refurbishes products to OEM standards is an absolute necessity.