Sponsored by Summit Imaging
By Larry Nguyen
Each year, health care organizations spend millions of dollars on equipment maintenance. Reducing costly outside service technicians’ expenses by streamlining equipment maintenance and repair processes presents an enormous opportunity. This allows health care facilities the ability to reduce expense and increase revenues without sacrificing quality of care. Partnering with a reliable third-party vendor that offers effective technical support can help ensure the long-term reliability of expensive medical equipment. Unfortunately, the recent pandemic has left a draining impact on resources leaving many health care facilities fighting to stay afloat to continue serving patients.
Both financial and regulatory constraints have put pressure on hospitals to do more with less and an uncertain future will likely pause new capital equipment purchases.
Healthcare technology managers (HTMs) will be under even more pressure to service and maintain hospital equipment.
In response to the pandemic, a more efficient and simplified process supplemented by third-party technical support is being widely used among HTMs. Rather than immediately requesting an outsourced technician when medical equipment malfunctions, clinical engineers are looking to expert third-party vendors who offer remote dial-in tech support to help them diagnose their equipment. Depending on the results of the remote tech support, HTMs can then determine if a field service technician site visit is required to repair their machines, or if a remote solution can resolve the issue. In addition, we expect that most third-party support vendors will offer 24-hour expert support to HTMs in health care facilities. These experienced professionals can provide clinical engineers with the assistance they need to resolve and perform service repairs.
In general, there are three factors that an HTM should analyze to assess a remote technical support team.
- Quick and accurate diagnosis is critical in assisting HTMs to service and maintain their medical devices.
- High-quality remote technical support offers either A) immediate resolution if no electronic replacement parts are needed, or B) the ability to identify and provide high-quality replacement parts if there is an electronic failure.
- The capability to walk an HTM through installation of the replacement parts and validation testing.
In today’s health care environment, equipment downtime will have far greater consequences than ever before. This is due to increased utilization needs and lack of resources to increase the quantity of devices. Professional and reliable remote technical support provides HTMs and clinical users quick resolution of equipment failures, thereby maximizing equipment uptime. By providing an accurate diagnosis and quality replacement parts, high equipment uptime is maintained and capital spending can be significantly reduced. This optimal support model will lower costs by preventing unnecessary service on the same device. This process can be streamlined by finding a trusted third-party vendor that consistently provides high-quality repairs and replacement parts. A good indicator of a company’s service quality is the length of its warranty. Companies with longer warranties provide higher quality parts that last longer and indicate the vendor’s confidence in their service and product. A vendor’s reputation in the clinical engineering community is also a great way to determine the quality of its service.
When health care facilities take service in-house, one concern they may have when working with third-party repair companies is that mistakes may inadvertently be made during the repair process. When parts are not repaired correctly there can be serious repercussions that could potentially compromise patient safety. To allay these concerns, the FDA published a report that there is “no objective evidence is not sufficient to conclude whether or not there is a widespread public health concern related to servicing of medical devices, including by third-party servicers.” Even with support of the FDA, it is crucial for clinical engineers to authenticate every refurbished part to allow detection of flaws prior to installation.
High-quality replacement parts and support are critical to a successful transition from traditional service agreements to full in-house service. Quality of support to clinical engineering teams is the foundation in building trusted relationships with end users. We recognize the pressures and comparisons to OEM service contracts that clinical engineers encounter and have found that decreasing downtime is even more key to increase equipment availability and utilization to best serve patients.
At Summit Imaging, a team of technical support engineers are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to assist your team with ultrasound equipment failures. Because of our experience and our comprehensive, growing database of diagnostic error codes, our diagnostic time averages less than three minutes per call, with a 97% first-time call accuracy. Summit Imaging’s technical support comes at no additional cost.
Larry Nguyen is CEO and CTO at Summit Imaging.
For more information, visit www.mysummitimaging.com.