by Sean Ruck
, Contributing Editor | November 04, 2014
From the August 2014 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
To keep staff frustration to a minimum Spearman says hospitals should ask their service organizations some key questions. Things to ask include: Where is the service engineer coming from? What is the quality of the part? Are they doing system testing with full load or just doing bench testing or are they just doing harvesting? Can they get there the same day?
Another question hospitals might ask is what happens if they want to take their service in-house? “When a customer wants to go in-house with complicated technology, we do an empowerment. We helped someone go from full-service from ultrasound to absolutely self sufficient,” Spearman says.
Moving into a self-sufficient operating model is more challenging than ever, with greater scrutiny from ACR and CMS among others. But that challenge is there for ISOs as well, so it really comes down to how well the techs know their stuff, regardless of them being in-house or outside they’ll need to know what they’re doing from a regulatory aspect. “You’re going to see that some ISOs that can’t play the quality game,” says Spearman.
“If you have a problem with an asset, the FDA will show up shut down the asset and demand to see all the paperwork — they’ll want to see the paperwork on all the parts etc,” he says.
Still, Spearman sees multiple scenarios coming up. In-house options are becoming more attractive for larger providers and more and more facilities are starting to consider them. “There is a large IDN in the Southwest— they had a two million dollar service contract that went to zero. That customer is completely empowered after a three year service transition,” Spearman says.
Repair versus replace
A lot of components on both CT and MR are completely repairable, says Jeff Fall, president of Oxford Instruments.
That means facilities have a choice to make. By not having to troubleshoot, but instead just replace a whole module may save time in some instances, but it can be costly, especially in the absence of a full-service contract. So time versus cost is an equation the hospital will have to solve.
For hospitals going to part replacement route, that means they’re going the ISO route more likely than not. In that case, Fall says facilities need to be well-aware of the reputation of the company they’re working with. “Not all third-parties are equal,” he says. “I think third-parties all get lumped into one group and a lot of consumers don’t know there’s a difference between them.” One differentiator is the certifications a group holds. If they’ve met certain accreditation standards and ISO requirements that will help to prove the company has the experience and knowledge necessary for the job.