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

Traffic light system could reduce hospital waiting times

24/04/2018Traffic light system could reduce hospital waiting times

A pilot system is making it easier for GPs to understand the hospital waiting times experienced by their patients. The e-traffic light system co... more >
Ambulance workers threatened with weapons and sexual violence

23/04/2018Ambulance workers threatened with weapons and sexual violence

Sexual assaults on ambulance workers have almost trebled in five years, a Freedom of Information (FoI) by union GMB has revealed. Since 2012 the... more >
RCN seeks views on three-year pay deal

23/04/2018RCN seeks views on three-year pay deal

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has opened its vote for its members to have their say on a three-year pay deal. If approved, the deal would s... 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

Hard to be optimistic

Hard to be optimistic

Rachel Power, chief executive of the Patients Association, warns that we must be realistic about the very real effects of continued underfunding across the health service. It’s now bey... more > more last word articles >
681 149x260 NHE Subscribe button

the scalpel's daily blog

NHS long-term funding: what’s in store?

10/04/2018NHS long-term funding: what’s in store?

Anita Charlesworth, director of research and economics at the Health Foundation, discusses Theresa May’s recent announcements on long-term NHS funding and considers the options available. The prime minister’s appearance in front of the Liaison Committee of the House of Commons last month has caused quite a stir in the health world and no doubt a fair amount of angst in the Treasury. This is not the first time a prime ministe... more >
read more blog posts from 'the scalpel' >

comment

Building a solid evidence base

18/04/2018Building a solid evidence base

Danielle Doyle of THIS Institute, co-created by the University of Cambridge and the Health Foundation, says the new organisation will dare to try... more >
Forensics v fraud

18/04/2018Forensics v fraud

Gareth Ballance, technical lead of the Forensic Computing Unit (FCU), gives a snapshot of a day in the life working for the NHS Counter Fraud Aut... more >
A personal view of NAPP’s future strategy

18/04/2018A personal view of NAPP’s future strategy

Dr Patricia Wilkie, president of the National Association for Patient Participation (N.A.P.P.), outlines her personal ambitions for the coming ye... more >
It’s all about quality data

18/04/2018It’s all about quality data

Steve Graham, eProcurement/Scan4Safety lead at the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), and Gillian Fox, head of the eProcurement Program... more >
Setting the reform agenda

18/04/2018Setting the reform agenda

In 2017, the National Audit Office (NAO) said the government needs to take a stronger and more integrated approach to rein in the cost of clinica... more >

interviews

Duncan Selbie: A step on the journey to population health

24/01/2018Duncan Selbie: A step on the journey to population health

The NHS plays a part in the country’s wellness – but it’s far from being all that matters. Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Pu... 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 >
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 >