Special report: Service contract caveats

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Informe especial: Advertencias del contrato de servicio

por Sean Ruck, Contributing Editor | January 24, 2011
From the January 2011 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

One of the busiest ERs in Chicago had an emergency of its own on a Friday afternoon. The hospital’s CT encountered a problem that would keep the system inoperable for days. That’s when Genesis Medical Imaging came to the rescue. “We decided to take a Lightspeed 16 from our stock and we delivered it to the site that afternoon,” recalls Robert Dakessian, president and CEO of Genesis. “Our crew deinstalled the customer's scanner and installed the loaner. The hospital resumed scanning patients 6:00 a.m. Saturday.”

Fortunately for that hospital, it had a contract in place with a service provider willing and able to rise to the challenge. But others aren’t always so lucky. For as many different service companies in existence, chances are there are just as many different levels of professionalism, knowledge and capabilities on display. That’s why it’s crucial for facilities to insulate themselves against scenarios that could prevent them from doing their jobs. For providers fortunate enough to have qualified in-house technicians with ready access to replacement parts, the answer to solution for maximum equipment uptime is obvious. However, for facilities not as blessed, there are often more questions than answers.

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Warranties help to protect a hospital’s equipment investment against manufacturer defects, but won’t cover the typical wear and tear on equipment. While a warranty may be enough for some equipment, for other pieces worth millions of dollars with repair costs for neglected equipment potentially in the tens of thousands of dollars range, just having a warranty isn’t going to let most end-users sleep easy at night.

When a facility is investigating service contract options, there can be a daunting amount of homework required to ensure it’s getting the best deal. Still, it’s imperative to put in the time to research options, levels of service and terms of contract.

To help with the homework, DOTmed News surveyed some of the biggest medical equipment manufacturers in the industry today and spoke with some independent service organizations for their take on the topic. The responses provide answers to a number of questions any budget-planner should ask.

Who provides the service?
Across the board, the original equipment manufacturers queried responded that they provide service for all the modalities they manufacture, but there were some variations regarding who actually carried out the work.