From the August 2019 issue of DOTmed HealthCare Business News magazine
The decision to purchase a new piece of capital equipment is never taken lightly — but some healthcare providers may not realize that selecting a system is actually just the tip of the iceberg.
Figuring out how to maintain and service the system in a way that avoids downtime while also avoiding unnecessary expenses is critical. While there are many options for servicing medical equipment, few would argue that anyone has more intimate knowledge of a piece of machinery than the manufacturer (or OEM). This is especially true for new technology that has just recently entered the market.
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When sitting down to negotiate a service contract, Aaron Goryl, general manager for U.S. healthcare technology management and on-demand development at GE Healthcare, has one piece of advice: “Don’t let your service providers guess what you need.”
Communication, according to Goryl, is essential for any provider to get the exact services it requires, whether it be repairs, maintenance or equipment utilization, for a fair price and without unnecessary hassles or complications.
“Look for both parties to collaborate. Be open and candid with one another on what they have and what their desired outcomes are,” he told HCB News. “This ensures flexibility and customization are built into the agreement so the customers, over time, can meet the objectives and obtain the outcomes they desire.”
But to figure out the best agreement, care providers must have a solid grasp of their equipment, from its complexity and age to its downtime costs and order of criticality. In return, OEMs must accept that one size does not fit all, and be flexible to customize their offerings for parts and components, as well as training and manpower for services.
The role of training in a service agreement
All OEMs can be expected to provide training on a continual basis to their service engineers so that they can service different types of equipment that vary in complexity. However, increasingly, the industry’s manufacturers are adding training as a service itself to practices that do not require a full-service contract or prefer their own in-house teams. Understanding the needs of individual customers can lead to tiered service options and greater in-house capabilities, not to mention cost savings for healthcare providers.
“The more comfortable our customers are in servicing their devices and the more professional they are, the more highly trained, faster and effective they are in servicing our equipment,” said Matthew McCallum, vice president of business management and marketing of customer service at Siemens Healthineers North America. “The more highly trained, faster and effective they are in servicing our equipment, the better the equipment operates.”