7 Tips for Purchasing New Imaging Equipment

May 24, 2012

Proper due diligence is required before making any major diagnostic imaging equipment purchasing decisions. Here’s what to consider.

Whether you are in the market to replace outdated diagnostic imaging equipment or are looking to purchase the latest and greatest in new technology, it’s important to choose the right equipment for the right working environment, which encompasses the organization, the technicians, and the patients.

Do the benefits gained from utilizing the most up-to-date technology provide a high return on investment? For example, does it make economic sense to replace the 16 slice CT scanner with a 64 slice CT scanner? Digital mammography seems to be the current standard of technology, but does film-based mammography provide proper diagnostic images? Are patients satisfied with 3D ultrasound images or do they prefer 4D images?

The point is, proper due diligence is required before making any major equipment purchasing decisions. The perfect solution for your organization is out there, you just need to do your homework to find it.

Here are seven tips to consider before buying new diagnostic imaging equipment:

1. Price - When purchasing new or refurbished diagnostic imaging equipment, price is always a major concern. Not only should the purchase price be taken into consideration, but also consider how much will it cost to properly maintain the equipment over its lifetime. How much are replacement parts or consumables, and how does the purchase price compare to other similar makes and models on the market? Creating an easy to read side-by-side chart may help with the decision-making process.

2. Environmentally Friendly - If being environmentally friendly is important to your organization, the selection of green diagnostic imaging equipment is limited and the product features available may or may not meet your wish list needs. The initial purchase might be more than anticipated; however, the maintenance costs over its lifetime are usually significantly reduced.

3. Usage - Another determining factor when considering the purchase of new or refurbished diagnostic imaging equipment is usage. How often and in what environment will the equipment be used? The questions posed in the opening paragraph are great examples of details to consider; the circumstances in which the equipment will be utilized will help determine the list of product features necessary to get the job done well and in a timely manner. It might be worth taking a quick survey of the technicians as well to figure out the true needs of the patients.

4. End-Users - The skill levels of the technicians using the diagnostic imaging equipment should be given some serious thought before making a significant purchase. If you are purchasing the most technologically advanced CT scanner for example, will the end-users require additional training on how to properly operate the equipment or how to optimize clinical protocols? And is training provided online or offline and at what cost? Will the end-users have unlimited access to online usage, maintenance, and vendor performance reports and will those reports be provided at no cost?

5. Service Contract - First and foremost, find out the duration of the manufacturer warranty because it varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. After that warranty period expires, it is extremely important to consider what service contract terms and conditions are available and at what cost. Is the service contract long or short-term; is there an auto-renewal clause; what are the cancellation fees; is there a guaranteed response time; and are parts and travel included in the contract cost?

Before entering into any contract with the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) or third-party vendor, it is vital to understand exactly what you are signing. Don’t make the mistake of assuming the contract has favorable terms and conditions. The consumer should always consult an expert before signing a contract, regardless of any sales tactics deployed at the initial purchase of the diagnostic imaging equipment. There are ways to negotiate favorable contract terms and conditions. Furthermore, the organization’s negotiating leverage is completely lost after the service contract has been signed. Alternatives to the traditional service contracts are available – time and materials, preventative maintenance only, loaner or depot service, or utilizing an Equipment Maintenance Management Program (EMMP).

6. Technical Support and System Updates - Technical support and system updates are often bundled in the terms and conditions with the purchase of an expensive service contract. Since organizations have alternatives to the traditional service contract, it would be advantageous to negotiate technical support and system updates at the initial purchase of costly diagnostic imaging equipment. Technical support should be easily accessed via a toll-free number and system updates should be provided at no cost since their goal is to eliminate a manufacturer malfunction or enhance the overall performance of the equipment.

7. Availability of Parts and Consumables - Decide whether you prefer OEM certified parts and new consumables versus refurbished parts and consumables. The pros and cons for each need to be considered. Which parts and consumables are more readily available, new or refurbished, and do the prices fall within your equipment maintenance budget? It’s important to review the language concerning parts and consumables in the service contract or interview possible time and material service vendors who can perform the required maintenance on the diagnostic imaging equipment being considered.

In the end, your due diligence here will help determine what make, model, and product features coincide with how to best serve the patients. It’s important to choose wisely when making such a significant purchase. Don’t rush the process. The final purchase will ultimately come down to the right piece of diagnostic imaging equipment that meets the majority of your wish list needs and is the most beneficial to the organization and its patients.

Share your buying experience with us. Did the diagnostic imaging equipment purchased meet your expectations? What changes would you make to your buying process in the future?

Jennifer Daugherty is a business development coordinator for Charlotte, NC-based The Remi Group, LLC, which provides programs that replace equipment maintenance service contracts, with the goal of saving money, improving equipment performance, and reducing equipment downtime.