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The advantages of third-party service in a COVID-19 world

by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | August 17, 2020
Business Affairs Parts And Service
From the August 2020 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

“We are actively enhancing our remote capabilities,” Rob Stevens, service operations leader for services and solutions delivery of Philips North America, told HCB News regarding Philips' multi-vendor service offerings. “At our Customer Care Solutions Center in Atlanta, Georgia, we are increasing and improving our connections to systems via our Philips Remote Services (PRS) secured internet connection. Connected systems can ‘phone home’ to alert remote engineers that a system may be experiencing an issue that is not visible to the operator. In these cases, we can proactively initiate service to improve system performance.”

The use of remote monitoring reduces the need for bringing service people on-site at the facility and can be used for a variety of purposes, including monitoring equipment, troubleshooting problems, performing diagnostics, database resets and cleanups, and in some cases, even equipment repair.

Meanwhile, service providers are using telecommunications technology to institute more online training for their service teams during the pandemic. It is a trend that is expected to continue even after the pandemic has ended, and extends beyond independent service engineers to healthcare systems and their own in-house service teams.

“There is a piece of technical training that is pure classroom,” said Moorey. “I think there is an opportunity for the pure classroom, the lecture portion of that class to be more virtual, which would limit the amount of time a technician would have to be away from their job site.”

He warns, however, that there’s ultimately no replacement for hands-on learning.

"But for the technical aspect, it really is important to be in front of that device and to have the benefit of interaction with a peer or instructor and share those experiences to help solidify the technical part of that training.”

Servicing a post-pandemic world
COVID-19 is certain to have long-term ramifications even after the pandemic has ended. Learning the lessons and being prepared the next time something like this happens will require a fundamental shift in the way many aspects of healthcare operate. Equipment service will be one part of the “new normal” we embark on.

“Long term we do not foresee a time when outside service employees will be able to enter a medical facility without additional health and wellness screenings,” said Richardson Healthcare’s Olsen and Diddell. “The rules will be IDN / Health system specific. If you do not follow their rules on entry, you cannot come onsite and do service work.”

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