From the November 2012 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
The following tips were provided courtesy of Block Imaging International, Inc., Radon Medical, LLC., and Integrity Medical Systems, Inc.
- Since your x-ray equipment will outlast nearly every other imaging modality, it is important to properly maintain it.
Regular maintenance should happen at least one to two times a year, and when you purchase the equipment, you should make sure technician training is included so that warm-up and general operational and maintenance tips can be shown. Preventive maintenance includes cleaning all cabinets, filters, stands, fans, and circuit boards; re-calibrating the system since the components age and need to be re-calibrated to keep accurate results; and finally, checking all components for possible wear and tear issues. For example, when X ray tubes start showing signs of pending failure, like an arcing fault on heavy exposures, look into tube replacement options immediately before collateral damage occurs beyond tube replacement. In other words, try to proactively avert issues before they arise.
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- Maintaining proper use and handling procedures.
This includes warming tubes up prior to heavy use or if they have not been used for several hours or more (recommended 16 to18 exposures, some generators have warm up buttons).
- When evaluating equipment for purchase, look at overall cost of ownership. Request service options after warranty. Can the provider offer service options that are in line with your risk appetite for uncovered repairs? Also, for any major/expensive repairs on x-ray equipment older than 15 years, take a close look at your long-term ownership costs and future parts availability. As X-ray equipment ages beyond 15 years, many parts become harder if not impossible to find, making it more expensive to maintain this equipment without significant down time utilized in locating rarer parts. It may in fact be less expensive in the long-run to replace older equipment with new equipment, as several companies now offer up to five-year parts warranties. When replacing older, hard-tomaintain equipment with new equipment that carries a five year parts warranty, your cost of ownership amortized over the following five years provides a much lower cost of ownership.
- When looking at a radiology department’s plan for maintaining equipment, try to strike a balance of coverage levels per piece of equipment and budget what’s available overall.
At times 50 percent of the equipment will consume the entire contract budget, leaving the remainder of the items at total risk. By opting for lower cost and less comprehensive coverage options, you may be able to cover all your equipment at a lower level of coverage, thereby extending capital life of the scope of the equipment.
- Qualified third party service alternatives can not only offer contract savings, but these companies often have access to help keep the equipment well beyond the OEM end of service life statements, thereby extending the capital life of the equipment.
Qualified third party service alternatives can normally offer coverage without glassware coverage. Even though this exposes more risk for the customer, these same third party companies can offer alternative glassware to that of the OEM’s glassware, at a much lower cost, typically 50 percent less. Therefore, the risk of going “without glass coverage”, with a third-party provider, is often much less than the risk of going “without glassware coverage” with OEM service contract options.