GE HealthCare Services displays progress in multivendor service at AHRA conference

August 31, 1994

Vendor shows that CompreCare is no pilot project If there wereany questions about GE Medical Systems' commitment to multivendorservice, they were answered at this month's American HealthcareRadiology Administrators' meeting in Las Vegas. GE's

Vendor shows that CompreCare is no pilot project

If there wereany questions about GE Medical Systems' commitment to multivendorservice, they were answered at this month's American HealthcareRadiology Administrators' meeting in Las Vegas. GE's new servicearm, GE HealthCare Services, appeared at the conference and distributedliterature touting CompreCare, the company's new multivendor serviceoffering.

CompreCare has been the talk of the service industry sinceGE revealed the program's existence earlier this year (SCAN 4/20/94).Under CompreCare, GE can assume responsibility for maintainingall of a hospital's equipment, including medical imaging devicesmanufactured by other OEMs. The program is designed to providea single source of equipment service for facilities tired of dealingwith a multitude of vendors.

The AHRA meeting marked the conference debut for GE HealthCareServices, according to general manager Steve Kellett. The unit'sappearance, as well as its new brochure, are part of an effortby GE to show that CompreCare is a viable product and not an amorphousconcept that GE is experimenting with on a pilot basis.

"The market perception is improving. Customers are seeingand hearing more about it. The visibility is picking up tremendously,"Kellett told SCAN. "When customers see (a brochure), theysay, `Now I believe it's for real." GE HealthCare Serviceshas built a dedicated sales force to market CompreCare. Initialcontact with a potential customer is often made by a GEMS equipmentor service sales specialist, who will call in HealthCare Servicesrepresentatives for further discussions. HealthCare Services initiallyis targeting medium to large hospitals for the program.

There are obvious synergies inherent in working with the equipmentside of GEMS, but HealthCare Services has strived to maintainits own identity. The unit is based in Brooklyn Heights, OH, insteadof at GEMS headquarters in Milwaukee.

Developing a five-year service plan for a hospital involvesa detailed analysis of the facility's equipment and service practices,and HealthCare Services has pledged to maintain customer confidentiality.

"We're asking customers to come to us and tell us moreabout themselves than they have to any vendor in the past,"said Rich Shanks, sales specialist. "We are probably sharingmore about how we operate, how we practice and go about our businessthan we have with customers in the past."

One of CompreCare's first installations is at Good SamaritanMedical Center in Zanesville, OH, where GE is servicing all ofthe facility's medical imaging and biomedical equipment. HealthCareServices has assigned an account manager to Good Samaritan tooversee the program, which makes use of Samaritan's existing in-housebiomedical service organization. Other CompreCare customers includeGeorge Washington University and Medical Center in Washington,DC, and Memorial Medical Center in Savannah, GA.

At present, GE plans to operate in a role similar to a capitalasset manager, using in-house service organizations as well asOEM and ISO service to maintain equipment. In the long term, however,HealthCare Services will assume as much of the service itselfas possible, Kellett said.

"In the early stages, as we develop our expertise, thereis going to be more of an asset manager flavor to (the program).We will subcontract to an OEM or an ISO or utilize an in-houseorganization," Kellett said. "But our long-term commitmentis to provide the service directly where possible."

In general, HealthCare Services has had good relations withother OEMs in providing service. Some vendors have been more cooperativethan others, however, Kellett said.

To date, Kellett said GE has not been contacted by other vendorswho are implementing similar programs. At least two competitorsare examining the concept, though.

Picker International is conducting multivendor service on acustomer-by-customer basis, according to spokesperson Mike Peterson.The Cleveland-based OEM is considering an expansion of the program.

"We are in the planning stages of taking it to a moreformalized, general program," Peterson said.

Siemens Medical Systems is also working on multivendor service,according to Willie Foerstner, national service manager.

"We are evaluating whether to go in with a full-blownprogram," Foerstner told SCAN. "We're meeting with customerswho are interested, to see if we can work out a plan."

Siemens has been contacted by GE representatives for a quoteon a service contract at a Seattle hospital, and Siemens plansto give GE a quote as it would any other customer, Foerstner said.