Proactive Ultrasound System Purchasing
In today’s environment more than ever, it is critical that Biomedical/Clinical Engineering be involved in the purchasing process for new ultrasound systems. As more facilities transition to performing repairs and maintenance in-house, there are important factors to consider and questions to be asked before and during the purchasing of new equipment. After the purchase is complete, your leverage with the manufacturer is greatly diminished.
When evaluating a new ultrasound system, the first question to ask is for a complete list of installations in the area, not a hand-picked one. By checking with the clinical and support departments with other facilities on system performance and reliability, you may be able eliminate one or more candidates. Another question would address how long the system has been on the market as new product introductions, regardless of manufacturer, tend to have more issues than their less contemporary peers. If you are purchasing a brand new platform (let’s face it, some clinical personnel must have the very latest), ask that the system have the same hardware and software as newly sold systems upon warranty expiration. This will ensure that any performance and reliability patches introduced during the year will be installed free of charge and lessen the likelihood you will be challenged by inherent problems.
Now you want to ask about warranties and, if practical, ensure only the standard warranty is purchased unless you can negotiate for free or reduced-cost extended warranties. The next factor(s) to consider revolve around serviceability after the warranty has expired. Does the manufacturer offer training and can you negotiate it into the purchase of the system? Are the materials needed to service the system such as operating system software, diagnostics, calibration utilities, and service manuals included or at least available for purchase? Are there any codes needed to perform service and will the manufacturer furnish them?
Now let’s examine service from the manufacturer. Where are their service engineers geographically located? Where are their parts located? Are there any uptime or response time guarantees? Is their system serviceable by Independent Service Organizations or can only the OEM perform service and maintenance after warranty expiration?
By asking the right questions and negotiating for long-term serviceability during the sale of an ultrasound system, you can ensure you have not only picked the right product in the present but have gone a long way to ensure lower cost service and maintenance for the future.