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What do unconventional service models tell us about the bone densitometry market?

by John W. Mitchell, Senior Correspondent | August 28, 2017
Parts And Service Women's Health
From the August 2017 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

"The footprint Alpha Source built to offer our customers a good solution for their end-of-service-life ultrasound service needs was a key enabler to have Alpha Source expand into bone mineral densitometry," says Rob Reilly, vice president and general manager for GE, U.S. and Canada Service. "We continually evaluate and evolve the work we do, based on market needs and where our field engineers’ high-end technical capabilities can add the most value for our customers."

MD Buyline’s Johnson noted that although agreements like the one between Alpha Source and GE are not the norm, most medical device companies are prioritizing their service operations as a key selling point.

"We see most vendors putting their heart and soul into their service and support to make it better," she says.

Accountability is key
Unlike in decades gone by, Johnson says it's possible in the information age for an OEM to be rated first in product and last in service, a dubious designation she can readily identify with the user ratings and data her company oversees. In an era when it’s easier than ever to issue a public complaint, OEMs are ramping up their focus on training, response and call service – and the results take many forms.

“As a service organization, customer feedback is a cornerstone for our business,” says Alpha Source’s Lytle. “We have contracted with a third-party customer research firm to measure our customer satisfaction, both locally and nationally.”

If a company decides to go the service outsourcing route, as GE has with Alpha Source, there are important considerations to make sure the partnership will be beneficial.

"The risks ... from ceding control of a customer-facing function to that third party ... is short-term gains in profitability can be hurt in the long run if the third party is delivering subpar service,” warns Shehata. “A device maker should be thinking about the scope of work to the service organization [and] its audit rights to ensure that the contract terms are being met.”

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