From the August 2019 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
Quality assurance (QA) testing
There’s no reason to put up with a company that struggles to send you medical imaging components that actually work. A parts supplier should be testing every part it harvests from pre-owned imaging systems and every part that’s returned before it goes back on the warehouse shelf.
Plugging parts into a piece of imaging equipment and ensuring they will function as expected is the only way to provide true quality assurance. A bit of research into how your parts provider conducts QA will tell you a lot about their commitment to quality parts and customer service.
There may be times when an engineer receives a replacement part that doesn’t appear to work. Despite best intentions, there’s always the possibility that something was overlooked during installation. The part may be fine, but the engineer needs some technical assistance.
A parts supplier that also offers technical support to imaging engineers in the field can help troubleshoot roadblocks and brainstorm solutions to the problem. If a solution is found, it helps the parts provider keep its DOA rate low, but it also allows the customer to avoid the hassle of returning a part and waiting for another replacement to arrive. That means reduced downtime.
Keep in mind that the level of free technical support you’re getting from the OEM will depend on the terms of your service contract, and could come with an additional cost.
Medical imaging partners: Certifications and regulations
There’s been a lot of discussion in the medical imaging community lately regarding potential regulations and new standards. A 2018 FDA report found that third-party parts and service providers offer necessary support to the U.S. healthcare system. The FDA also noted that it found no reason for any public health concerns surrounding the servicing of imaging equipment.
At that time, the FDA indicated it wouldn’t impose any regulations. Still, there are ongoing efforts to standardize servicing practices, including recent deliberations surrounding the differences between servicing and remanufacturing imaging equipment.
The latest set of recommended servicing guidelines, which came from the Medical Imaging and Technology Alliance (MITA), are based on ISO 9001 and ISO 13485 standards, the latter of which relates specifically to medical devices. For now, healthcare providers should look for partners who already meet these standards and gain confidence in the quality that can be expected.