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August 21, 2013

How to Maintain Your Medical Equipment and Cut Costs

The ongoing pressures for hospital leaders to improve quality, keep up with the ever-changing technology of medical equipment, and simultaneously reduce cost has driven healthcare facilities to better  manage the maintenance of medical equipment.  In this offering of Off the Shelf, we share how on hospital leaders maintain their medical equipment and how they determine their cost savings strategy. In order to take advantage of any service contract savings, we will look at:

Biomedical Programs

In the past, facilities used their in-house biomedical department only to provide medical equipment management, preventive maintenance, and corrective maintenance on the majority of general biomedical equipment, while utilizing OEM service contracts for the higher-end technology equipment, such as Computed Tomography (CT), Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Cardiac Catheterization labs, and Lasers.

While the use of any one of the mentioned programs will provide the facility with some cost savings, a strategy that utilizes a combination of service methods that fits the individual facility’s needs and available biomedical resources will provide the greatest savings, while also maintaining equipment reliability and uptime.

Performing equipment needs assessment, current and future level of biomedical support, and analyzing equipment service history will assist in determining the service methods and type of service contract needed to support the operations of the facility.

In order to take advantage of any service contract savings, consider the following:

Full-service Contracts (OEM or Third Party)

This type of contract covers all parts, labor, and preventive maintenance. The best first step is to analyze the following to determine your facility’s equipment service needs:
  • What are the hours of operation equipment is needed to support patient care?
  • Is back-up equipment available to support operations during main equipment downtime?
  • What are the age and service history of equipment? This will help to determine average time between failures and/or parts failure.
Opportunities for savings:
  • Choose an 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-through-Friday option.
  • Combine the same OEM equipment into one contract, such as, MRI, CT, Nuclear Medicine, etc. Hospital systems with more than one hospital that can take advantage of savings by combining all the same OEM equipment under one contract with various service options based on each site’s level of need.
  • Reduce the amount of glass (X-Ray tube), ultrasound transducers, etc., coverage and spread the risk over a greater number of units. The savings is realized by not having every high-dollar part covered for each unit. Base the decision on analyzed equipment history.
In-house Clinical Engineering

As part of an in-house support program, the following cost-saving strategies are based on an assessment of staff availability, competency, equipment history, and the level of risk the hospital is willing to
  • Determine the availability and competency level of staff to attend OEM or third-party training in order to determine the level of clinical engineering support for each piece of equipment.
  • Complete a cost/benefit analysis for any additional FTE(s), service training, parts, and any necessary additional test equipment against the cost of a full-service contract.
  • Analyze the labor and parts expense history of each piece of equipment currently covered under contract to determine the parts and any outside labor budget.
  • Look for trends on replacement statistics for high-dollar parts, such as X-ray tubes, Image Intensifiers, Detectors for CT, Digital Mammography, and Digital Radiology.
Other Contracts

Here are the contract types to consider:
  • Preventive Maintenance Contract: As part of the in-house program, hospitals may include a Preventive Maintenance contract to cover only preventive maintenance labor and parts. This contract insures that the equipment covered is performing to OEM specifications. The contract can also include service-level software/hardware updates as needed.
  • Parts-Only Contract: Another option to reduce the risk of high dollar parts is to enter into a parts-only contract. The hospital can negotiate a discount on parts.
  • Biomed Support Contract: Another option for an in-house program is a Biomed Support contract. This allows the hospital to negotiate discount labor and parts to assist Clinical Engineering. Clinical Engineering personnel will do the first call on all service and have the option to call the OEM as needed to support the equipment. The Biomed Support contact can also cover parts at a negotiated discount from list price.
Significant service cost savings are realized by the facility after choosing the correct method(s) of equipment support. Note that not all facilities have adequate Clinical Engineering (Biomed) or Health System support to help reduce expenses. Rather, they can take advantage of negotiating the proper contract based on their own needs assessment.

Soyring's Solution

Need equipment or property management consulting assistance at your facility? Know you have issues, but not sure where to start? Contact us.

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