ISOs meet OEM multivendor challengeby emphasizing third-party history

June 21, 1995

Serviscope debuts multivendor program in OhioLong before GE Medical Systems and Picker International unveiledtheir multivendor service programs, independent service organizations(ISOs) were providing maintenance for equipment manufactured

Serviscope debuts multivendor program in Ohio

Long before GE Medical Systems and Picker International unveiledtheir multivendor service programs, independent service organizations(ISOs) were providing maintenance for equipment manufactured byother parties. Rather than feeling vindicated by the arrival ofthe OEM heavyweights, ISOs who wish to remain independent findthey must scramble to respond to a serious threat to their business.

Serviscope, one of the biggest ISOs, last month took a majorstep toward leveling the playing field with the OEMs by establishinga multivendor service and asset management program of its own.The Wallingford, CT, firm debuted the program with the signingof a five-year pact with U.S. Health, Ohio's largest multihospitalsystem. Under the deal, Serviscope will provide maintenance andcapital asset management services for three of the health-caresystem's largest member hospitals.

Specifically, Serviscope is taking over the service and managementresponsibilities for clinical equipment in radiology and cardiologydepartments, laboratories and surgical suites at Riverside MethodistHospitals and Grant Medical Center, both in Columbus, and SouthernOhio Medical Center in Portsmouth, which have a combined totalof more than 2000 beds. Serviscope has guaranteed maintenancecost reductions partly through the realignment of OEM relationships,assistance with in-house clinical engineering, and strategic planningfor capital asset management.

U.S. Health, of Columbus, OH, includes about a half-dozen hospitals,as well as other health-care-related business units, and Serviscopehopes it will gain access to those facilities as well, accordingto Robert McGee, who was promoted to president of Serviscope latelast month.

Serviscope is implementing its asset management and serviceprogram for U.S. Health in three phases. The first is aimed atreducing service costs while maintaining or improving quality.A comprehensive audit of assets identifies immediate cost reductionsand gathers baseline information, while setting the foundationfor strategies that can consolidate equipment service. The companywill then initiate a risk pool program to maximize savings.

"Each piece of major capital equipment carries a certainamount of service maintenance risk to which a certain amount ofdollars can be attached each year," McGee explained. "Thelarger the pool of dollars being spent each year on maintenance,the easier it is to manage that risk."

In the second phase, Serviscope will identify the cost of ownershipfor each technology, and review planned capital expenditures fornew equipment to identify ways to minimize or postpone expenditureswhere possible. To reduce costs, the company will recommend life-extensionoptions, including upgrades and refurbishing. Serviscope willalso conduct cost-per-procedure analyses to form the basis forcost-reduction programs.

In the third phase, Serviscope will correlate physician referralpatterns with equipment utilization to determine how utilizationpatterns might change for different modalities. A five-year planwill then be developed for managing the installed base of equipment.Such management may include upgrades, redeployment of equipmentfrom one site to another in a hospital network, and the installationof new or refurbished equipment.

U.S. Health is just one of an expanding list of clients thatServiscope hopes to sign up. The company is aggressively marketingits multivendor service and asset management program to otherhealth-care systems.

"A lot of the drive in the marketplace comes down to meetingregional needs," McGee said. "We plan to start pilotprograms with different groups and then bring out full programs.Clearly the trend is toward being more universal and more flexiblefor customers."

InnoServ's multivendor program. Serviscope competitor InnoServTechnologies is responding to the arrival of the OEMs by toutingits depth of experience in multivendor service and capital assetmanagement. InnoServ's previous incarnation, R Squared Scan Systems,had offered such programs for five years, according to ThomasOwings, executive vice president of the Corona, CA, company. InnoServwas formed by the consolidation of R Squared and Mediq Equipmentand Maintenance Services (SCAN 10/12/94 and 6/1/94).

InnoServ has seen its multivendor program enhanced by the merger,which provided the opportunity to combine proprietary diagnosticsoftware for servicing different modalities, Owings said. Theopportunity has led to the creation of InnoServ Prevu, which thecompany believes will help reduce repair cycle times by allowingremote diagnostics on equipment across a range of manufacturersand modalities.

InnoServ provides multivendor service and asset managementto about 25 clients. The company has not yet signed up any hospitalchains, networks or hospital alliances, but hopes to do so shortly,Owings said.

In marketing its services to potential clients, InnoServ emphasizeswhat it does best -- the repair and maintenance of equipment.The company commits people and programs to an institution andcovers all the installed equipment in the imaging department.InnoServ staff may advise on the purchase of new equipment orhelp decide which equipment should be upgraded. It does not, however,develop long-range plans. When clients require such plans, InnoServcontracts with consulting firms, such as ECRI or Jannx MedicalSystems.

Owings believes that the entry of the OEMs into multivendorservice validates the work that his company has been doing forthe last several years.

"Five years ago, we were basically missionaries, attemptingto get the market to understand what these programs were all about,"Owings said.