This morning at the AAMI 2013 Conference & Expo in Long Beach, CA, I sat in on a roundtable discussion on imaging issues for hospitals. The session brought together clinical engineers, medical imaging OEMs, and even third-party service vendors to discuss the challenges hospitals face with regard to medical imaging equipment.
Here are four insights I took away from the conversation:
- Hospitals want OEMS to bring them the data.
One session attendee mentioned that his hospital requires OEMs to submit monthly service reports that detail the uptime of their imaging machines. Another said his hospital has monthly sit-down meetings with imaging equipment vendors vendors to discuss the reports they provide. Reports and meetings, they said, can improve communication and build relationships between hospitals and OEMs.
- Hospitals don’t trust your data.
Though hospitals ask for service reports from imaging vendors, they also track downtime themselves and are on the lookout for discrepancies in the data. “They know if you’re trying to hide something,” one attendee said.
- OEMs that aren’t flexible in service contract negotiations could see hospitals leave them for the competition.
One attendee mentioned that his hospital has CT and MR machines from two major vendors. The hospital’s clinical engineering team performs about 95% of the maintenance and repair work on the machines, he said, so when it came time to renegotiate the service contract, the hospital wanted some flexibility. One vendor was willing to be flexibile and craft an agreement that better suited the hospital’s needs. The other said no, and “it’s going to hurt them,” the attendee said.
- Hospitals aren’t afraid to use third-party service providers.
A representative from an independent service provider spoke up to say that third-party service organizations can cut the amount hospitals pay for service contracts by as much as 30%. OEMs often threaten hospitals that go this route by saying they won’t accept purchase orders from third parties or that the hospital will be a low priority if a problem does occur, some attendees said. But a few attendees from hospitals spoke up to say the threats don’t hold true. The third-party service provider said his company even contracts with OEMs themselves to perform some of the repair work. “You’d be surprised how little you need them, and how little it costs when you do,” he told the attendees.
Jamie Hartford is MD+DI's managing editor.