By John Garrett
You will often hear a salesman talk about partnerships with a hospital or imaging center. They are all smiles and desire nothing more than to be your best friend. However, if you take the time and look at what they are selling, it is a diode agreement. (For those that missed it, that is a one-way deal.) There might be some manufactured cost savings, but the only real beneficiary is the company that is doing the selling.
There are benefits to true partnerships. There are situations where you can form a partnership with a manufacturer. However, it seems to be the exception.
If you have read anything that I have written, you probably know that I am a fan of the Independent Service Organization (ISO). That does not mean I am against manufacturer service organizations. But the truth is that the manufacturer has a larger built in overhead and cannot be as flexible as the ISO. However, not all ISO companies are right for the job. A good deal is based upon the service strategy of the organization, the ability of in-house personnel and overall cost savings of the deals you make with a company. This is not dependent upon the deal being made with a manufacturer or ISO.
Before we enter into some fairyland idea of the ISO partnerships, we should be clear about a few things. All businesses are in business to make money. This includes not-for-profit companies. There is no way that any business can exist and operate for any length of time at a loss. However, the ISO typically has a lower overhead and can work in a manner that is more flexible than the manufacturer.
The upside to the real partnership, with a manufacturer or ISO, is that the imaging center or hospital has access to tech support, manuals, possibly hero kits with no restocking fee, and can usually lower the cost of ownership as well as reduce downtime for the equipment.
The flip side of a partnership is the in-house responsibilities of the in-house personnel. Both parties should be a full partner in the agreement. This will typically include a requirement to have someone trained on the unit. The training might be anything from first look to a thoroughly trained individual. Obviously, the more that is done by the hospital employee, the less a partnership should cost.
A good partnership is a relationship that includes two-way communication. Accurate feedback is how a partner can improve the deal. Both the ISO and the hospital. If there are specific issues with a refurbished part, packaging, tech support or communication a good business wants to know. A partnership requires honest, accurate and unemotional communication of issues. This interface includes areas that could be improved. It also requires the customer to be open to the same feedback. If there is a problem with the client keeping their end of the deal, they need to be open to feedback. Such a partnership will lead to a long-term reduction in the cost of service.