You know that old saying, “what you don’t know, can hurt you?” It applies to pretty much every area of life, including the process of deciding upon, and ultimately purchasing a solution for the diagnostic imaging equipment service needed by your hospital or imaging center.
To avoid being the victim of one of those somewhat painful blind spots, we recommend you ask these three questions the next time you’re in the market for service:
Q1: How do I know you know what you’re doing? This question is a little cheeky, but its intentions are pure. Ideally, it should open a larger discussion about experience, ongoing education and depth of technical expertise that a service solution and provider gives you access to.
Now’s the time to ask for specifics about the amount and type of training that a service provider’s team receives, how they would support and interact with your staff and their response time when you’re experiencing an equipment issue. These might seem like table stakes for any service provider, but make sure to ask and compare the answers you receive. You can download a Service Comparison Worksheet here.
Of course, a question along these lines and the ensuing discussion should also give you a sense of the type of relationship you would have with a provider. Their communication style and responsiveness are key indicators. You can also ask to talk to some of their current customers, which is a great way to find out if they have a reputation for doing what they say they will do, and getting the job done in a timely fashion. If they won’t allow you to talk to current customers, think twice about entering into a relationship with them.
Q2: How are you going to minimize my downtime? Fixing diagnostic imaging equipment is the name of the game. Any provider should be able to tell you how, specifically, they will keep downtime to a minimum. Different companies may offer different approaches, but they should have a reasonable plan about how they intend to tackle both planning preventive maintenance that is required, as well as unexpected service issues that occur. It’s a good idea to ask where the closest service engineer is located and how many hospital customers he or she works with; this will let you factor travel time into response times.
Technology continues to evolve, and today’s leading providers can proactively monitor and even remotely repair equipment. Even if you’re not a technical expert, find someone in your organization who is, and sit down and have a conversation with prospective service providers about the software, systems and platforms you would have access to and how their technology could save you time or money.
Parts are the other part of the equation, and they’re certainly worth discussing upfront. Ask for specifics on availability, find out what parts are “hot” and might be tough to get quickly, and which ones you can get overnight. A simple planning conversation upfront can save a lot of questions later.
Q3: How are you going to help me protect my bottom line? Healthcare and the cost of providing it is a moving target today. No one can predict exactly what’s going to happen with state and federal government regulation. This is why it’s essential to identify a diagnostic imaging service provider that has been in business long enough to successfully navigate healthcare’s turbulent waters. Chances are, that experience will pay off for you in the long run.
Specifically, ask them to detail the nature of the preventive maintenance they provide and their philosophy surrounding PM and updates. These activities are directly related to the shelf life of your equipment and the answers you get will tell you if a particular company is committed to keeping your costs down, and how they intend to do that.
Cost savings can be found in usage data these days, so don’t neglect to have a conversation about what reporting you can access from both your equipment company and your service provider. Also, because they’ve seen the inner workings of various hospitals, imaging equipment service companies may be able to give you insights about your internal workflows and how to increase efficiencies.
If you don’t ask the right questions, you definitely won’t get the right answers. Considering that service costs can account for as much as 10 percent of a multi-million dollar piece of diagnostic imaging equipment, every question you ask is worthwhile.
Are there specific questions that you use to evaluate service providers? Please share them in the comments below.
Learn more about Cassling's commitment to service excellence by visiting our Equipment Service page.