Health Service Focus

27.06.17

Third-party maintenance providers: An unfulfilled potential for patients and paymasters

The International Association of Medical Equipment Remarketers and Servicers (IAMERS) outlines the benefits of Independent Service Operators in servicing and maintaining medical imaging equipment.

Diagnostic Medical Imaging (DI) is part of the broader market of “medical devices”. It has revolutionised healthcare over the years by enabling doctors, specifically radiologists, to diagnose diseases early, and with certainty. Equipment is typically divided into complex high-end machines such as CT and MRI scanners, and technically simpler devices such as ultrasound scanners. These DI devices enable physicians to non-invasively diagnose disease and manage therapy.

Nowadays, diagnostic imaging is critical for delivering both emergency and non-urgent care, and is often used 24/7 by hospitals. It should be no surprise to anyone that proper maintenance of these devices comes with a cost. Consequently, healthcare providers are looking for effective maintenance services that are fast, dependable and adhere to international quality standards.

The service and maintenance of medical imaging equipment, after warranty, has typically been provided by the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM). In the past decade, third-party maintenance providers, also known as Independent Service Operators (ISOs), have entered the rapidly growing and demanding DI market in Europe. ISOs distinguish themselves by offering attractive prices for high-quality maintenance services. They are typically not restricted to a particular vendor, unlike the OEMs.

Our members have both the capacity and expertise to service equipment to exceptionally high standards, both expected by the equipment owners and in line with patient safety requirements. They typically hold the ISO 13485 Medical Device quality certification which requires them to demonstrate that their quality management system is dutifully implemented.

Fotolia 116743629 XXL

The quality of ISOs is reflected in the speed, reliability and flexibility of support that we provide to healthcare institutions. In fact, in order to win business, our members must demonstrate added value through their services. This means that they must perform just as well – and preferably better – on safety, uptimes and cost as the OEMs. On the issue of cost – a particularly pertinent one for hospitals across Europe – the use of ISOs can bring about substantial savings. Service/maintenance fees from ISOs are significantly lower than that of the OEM.

Our smaller size also allows our members to foster a closer relationship with the customer – built around trust and rapport, as well as a greater understanding of the specific needs of the client. As a result, we often deliver customised services beyond the sole provision of maintenance. For example, ISOs are well placed to give customers impartial advice when purchasing a device, based on our familiarity of servicing a broad range of vendors. 

We also service older-generation equipment systems for which the OEMs have scaled back or discontinued service, prolonging the life of these costly devices and assuring a better return on investment for our customers. For example, the NHS estimated in 2014 that the replacement of 181 MRI machines required an investment of £144.4m. With a greater number of NHS trusts using vital DI equipment beyond the average lifecycle of the individual units for predominantly budgetary reasons, the role of servicing aging equipment is becoming increasingly important.

Fotolia 85750724 XL

However, we need to ensure a level playing field – which means open and equal access to the market, be it through strictly impartial public tenders, access to critical inputs or vendor-neutral regulations.

Looking ahead, there is enormous pressure on all medical institutions to provide the best patient care at the lowest possible cost, and this is an issue which can only increase in importance in the future. As public finances are under strain, healthcare providers need to control their costs more tightly. ISOs are proving critical to holding the line on ever-increasing costs for providing diagnostic imaging services.

Given the high price of operating diagnostic imaging devices, hospitals, healthcare providers and ultimately patients across Europe would benefit from greater competition.

Fotolia 137979087 M

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

national health executive tv

more videos >

latest healthcare news

Ambulance chief blasts A&E after 57 crews are delayed by more than an hour

22/11/2017Ambulance chief blasts A&E after 57 crews are delayed by more than an hour

A West Midland’s Ambulance Service (WMAS) official, Mark Docherty, has urged health chiefs in charge of the Worcestershire Royal Hospital t... more >
Waterproofing the NHS workforce

22/11/2017Waterproofing the NHS workforce

With the NHS facing worker shortages, tight budgets and major recruitment issues, Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, explains how ... more >
Cutting through the fake news

22/11/2017Cutting through the fake news

In an era of so-called ‘fake news’ growing alongside a renewed focus on reducing stigma around mental health, Paul Farmer, chief exec... more >

editor's comment

25/09/2017A hotbed of innovation

This edition of NHE comes hot on the heels of this year’s NHS Expo which, once again, proved to be a huge success at Manchester Central. A number of announcements were made during the event, with the health secretary naming the second wave of NHS digital pioneers, or ‘fast followers’, which follow the initial global digital e... read more >

last word

The Refugee Doctor Initiative

The Refugee Doctor Initiative

Terry John, co-chair of the BMA & BDA Refugee Doctors and Dentists Liaison Group and chair of the union’s international committee, talks about a brilliant initiative that is proving mut... more > more last word articles >
681 149x260 NHE Subscribe button

the scalpel's daily blog

A new paradigm for public health

10/11/2017A new paradigm for public health

Heather Henry RN MBA, Queens nurse and chair of the New NHS Alliance looks into the issue of health inequality in the NHS. Health inequality is like the many-headed hydra of Greek mythology: no matter how many heads you cut off, the beast of rising illness is still coming to get you. It’s time to reconsider the weapons we use to slay the hydra. It´s time to think about whether we need new ones. Both academics and ... more >
read more blog posts from 'the scalpel' >

comment

Waterproofing the NHS workforce

22/11/2017Waterproofing the NHS workforce

With the NHS facing worker shortages, tight budgets and major recruitment issues, Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, explains how ... more >
Realising the power of data

22/11/2017Realising the power of data

Nick Hirst, chief information officer at the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network, outlines how his organisati... more >
Make doing the right thing easy

11/10/2017Make doing the right thing easy

Kay Currie, professor of Nursing & Applied Healthcare Research, ‘Safeguarding Health through Infection Prevention’ (SHIP) researc... more >
STAR: an innovative app for speech therapy

11/10/2017STAR: an innovative app for speech therapy

Dr Stuart Cunningham, a senior lecturer in Human Communication Sciences at the University of Sheffield, on a new app set to support speech and la... more >
The value of health creation

11/10/2017The value of health creation

Dr Brian Fisher, vice chair of the New NHS Alliance, outlines the many benefits of investing in health creation. We live in one of the riche... more >

interviews

Cutting through the fake news

22/11/2017Cutting through the fake news

In an era of so-called ‘fake news’ growing alongside a renewed focus on reducing stigma around mental health, Paul Farmer, chief exec... more >
Tackling infection prevention locally

04/10/2017Tackling infection prevention locally

Dr Emma Burnett, a lecturer and researcher in infection prevention at the University of Dundee’s School of Nursing and Midwifery and a boar... more >
Scan4Safety: benefits across the whole supply chain

02/10/2017Scan4Safety: benefits across the whole supply chain

NHE interviews Gillian Fox, head of eProcurement (Scan4Safety) programme at NHS Supply Chain. How has the Scan4Safety initiative evolved sin... more >
Simon Stevens: A hunger for innovation

25/09/2017Simon Stevens: A hunger for innovation

Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, knows that the health service is already a world leader when it comes to medical advances – ... more >
Improving care at the touch of a screen

08/08/2017Improving care at the touch of a screen

When it comes to dementia, having a calm and safe environment can have a substantial impact on a patient’s quality of life. NHE’s Jos... more >