From the August 2021 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
Independent service contracts:
Third-party maintenance organizations have become a big business. Even large vendors such as GE, Philips, and Siemens have found the margins great enough to get into the arena. Like OEMs, third-party contracts come in many forms—ranging from full parts and labor coverage, to labor only. Because they can share specialized biomedical engineers, they service a wide range of high-end technology that in-house programs could not feasibly service, for financial reasons.
The advantage of third-party contracts is there is great potential for cost savings. The downside is these vendors may not be able to service all leading-edge technologies that are new to the market. Another potential challenge is sub-optimal response time, especially if the third-party vendor is not local. As with OEMs, before committing to a contract, hospitals should fully understand which party is responsible for key activities, such as networking and cybersecurity, and be aware of typical response times.
Pros: There is a potential for cost savings.
Cons: May have limited access to OEM propriety parts and software, network and cybersecurity responsibilities must be confirmed.
The most cost-effective method of medical equipment service is a well-run in-house biomedical engineering program. This scenario presents the most risk but offers the highest potential for savings. To achieve the maximum savings available and to limit risk, the manager of the program must not only be technically capable, but also be financially in tune with the hospital's goals.
One disadvantage of this type of arrangement is that in the expanding healthcare market, highly skilled biomedical technicians are not always available.
To eliminate the risk that is typically incurred in the first year of bringing in a large piece of capital equipment within the realm of an in-house biomedical engineering program, it’s advisable to seek a competitive bid from a maintenance insurance company. Consider an asset management program with such a service.
Pros: The cost is typically lower than the other options, internal parties are responsible for networking and cybersecurity, and there is readily available input on when to replace technology.
Cons: May encounter limitations on staff capabilities, may not have the budget for service training; a risk is limited access to diagnostic software; carries the most financial risk of service options.
About the author: James X. Laskaris is a clinical expert with symplr.
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