by Sean Ruck
, Contributing Editor | November 04, 2014
From the August 2014 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
During the course of reporting this story, we’ve found that GPOs don’t play much of a role in the purchase of spare parts or noncontract service.
While the current system has served Legacy well, Magoon says things can get shaky when there are management changes. “When there are management changes, sometimes new managers will look to reduce expenses and make changes. In some ways, ISOs deal with this better because the ISOs have more experience working with management changes that the average in-house service team would. That’s why ISOs do well. They are very good at knowing when there is a management change and when they can offer a low price on something.”
Networking to keep equipment working
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Helen Jones is the unit director I of MedWest Harris, MedWest/Swain, which have 100 beds total.
Like Magoon at Legacy, Jones says that once equipment is out from under warranty, effort is made to move the servicing in-house. Jones says that generally, the equipment serviced in-house has been in use for a long time and is rarely still supported by the OEM. Moving away from outside service is Jones’ ideal. “We try and minimize it, but a specialty like tissue pathology you have to use OEM service. For 4,000 pieces of inventory, we only have 10 contracts that cover about 19 pieces,” she says. But there are challenges with providing in-house service for equipment OEMs have ceased to support. “It’s frustrating because it’s hard to find parts,” she says.
Getting those hard-to-find parts is all about who you know. “You have to find out who your reliable second source vendors are,” she says. “About 90 percent we do it ourselves. I remember who’s good because I still use them. My networking and relationships help me find parts.”
OEMs are still relied on though. “We do buy from them and sometimes we buy refurbished parts from them, many times we have to,” Jones says. She estimates that about 25 percent of the parts they use come from the OEM. For the rest, it’s getting in touch with contacts or getting creative. “We’ve bought from the Internet,” she says. Networking with peers and organizations also yields results. “We ask around, ‘do you have this part or know where to get it?’”
By getting a little creative, building relationships, networking and doing some investigative work, Jones has managed to minimize many expenses. She also uses a tool at nearly everyone’s disposal —the Internet. “The Internet has changed the way we do business,” she says. “To buy a bed cable from a bed manufacturer cost $120, but just $30 from a cable manufacturer. But it’s a generic item. We have to search, but it’s a perfectly fine part and not putting anybody at risk.”