Understanding Your Imaging Equipment Service Agreements

November 14, 2011

When considering the purchase of new diagnostic imaging equipment and corresponding equipment service agreements (synonymous with contract), the level of service required for the radiologists needs to be determined first. There are countless factors to consider - budget, service provider preferences, availability of in-house repair technicians - and numerous service providers to choose from that offer different products and service levels.

When considering the purchase of new diagnostic imaging equipment and corresponding equipment service agreements (synonymous with contract), the level of service required for the radiologists needs to be determined first. There are countless factors to consider - budget, service provider preferences, availability of in-house repair technicians - and numerous service providers to choose from that offer different products and service levels.

First, radiologists should rank what factors are most important to them and their practice. Second, knowledge is power, so knowing the difference between the most common types of service agreements will help radiologists make a more informed and efficient decision.

Below are the definitions of the most common types of diagnostic imaging equipment service agreements:

• Full-service - Service can be requested 24/7 usually via a toll-free hotline. It typically includes response priority, corrective and preventative maintenance, parts and labor, the use of OEM certified parts, and software updates.

• Business hours - Service can be requested during normal business hours, usually eight hours a day, five days a week. This typically includes response priority, corrective and preventative maintenance, parts and labor, the use of certified OEM parts, and software updates.

• Extended business hours - Service can be requested usually 12 hours a day, five days a week. This typically includes response priority, corrective and preventative maintenance, parts and labor, the use of OEM certified parts, and software updates.

• Extended business hours and weekends - Same as above, but set weekend hours are included.

• Preventive maintenance (PM) only - Service includes a predetermined number of preventative maintenance service calls during normal business hours. This typically includes parts and labor, the use of OEM certified parts, and software updates. This type of contract does not cover unplanned corrective maintenance.

• Time and materials - Service is paid for on an as-needed basis. The service vendor charges for parts, labor, and travel.

• Loaner or depot service - The equipment is returned to the vendor and the vendor provides a loaner piece of equipment until the faulty device has been repaired and returned.

• Inspection only - Similar to PM only contracts in that it’s a flat fee paid for only a known service.

• Calibration only - Similar to PM only contracts in that it’s a flat fee paid for only a known service.

If the conventional service agreements mentioned above do not meet the needs of the radiologists, their practice, or the diagnostic imaging equipment, there are other alternatives. The most common is the use of equipment maintenance management programs. These programs typically offer similar coverage levels characteristic of standard service agreements, but at a lower cost and increased flexibility. Again, knowledge is power, so proper due diligence is needed before an informed decision can be made.

If you have had experience with a particular type of service agreement mentioned above or an equipment maintenance management program, we would love to hear from you. If there is another alternative that’s worked for you, please let us know.

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