What can purchasers do to reduce the uncertainties and harms related to equipment failure and downtime? Ideally, the vendor would have a loaner program or rapid equipment replacement process in place. Choosing a vendor with a strong track record in this area, as well as the reach and infrastructure to ensure 24-hour loaner turnaround, could eliminate most of these costs and concerns.
4. Interchangeability of components
As component interchangeability rises, equipment TCO falls. For a consumer example, take the case of chargers: some work across phones and computers, some across phones of different generations, and some fit only one specific make of one specific device. Ultrasound equipment manufacturers that design expensive, high use components like probes to work across equipment in the same generation can create real savings for the hospital. If those vendors manufacture probes to work across upgraded equipment models it can save the hospital even more.
5. Trade-in prospects
The total cost of ownership might seem to stop when the equipment is no longer being used by the hospital. Including in the TCO calculation the trade-in value of the equipment gives a more accurate financial picture.
The comparison with the automobile industry is again helpful here: a manufacturer’s reputation for quality and longevity translates directly into a car’s higher trade-in value—and a poor reputation will do the reverse. The same logic holds true for ultrasound equipment, making the brand reputation a non-negligible factor in terms of eventual trade-in or resale. That reputation, and the longitudinal data that supports it, should be a part of the purchase decision at the outset.
A final thought
While COVID 19 has been hard on hospital margins, it has also been very stressful for healthcare providers. Paperwork and red-tape electronic health record requirements have only increased their workload and stress. So, while it does not fit neatly into a TCO calculation for diagnostic imaging equipment, it is important to factor in whether the manufacturer has software available to enhance workflow by reducing administrative burden, improving documentation and revenue capture, and enabling automatic quality assurance and credentialing. Portable ultrasound machines have made the process of care (diagnosis/treatment) more efficient, but until the release of software solutions for workflow management, such as FUJIFILM SonoSite’s Synchronicity, documentation of ultrasound exams had not kept up with the need to have better integration with electronic health records and computer/reporting systems and programs.