Ultrasound Service Inequality
Just this morning I was discussing a potential client with a team member who stated a prospective customer was currently being serviced by an organization that “performed preventative maintenance” on every device within the physician’s office from thermometers to sterilizers, refrigerators to ultrasound systems. The comment was made that they “are more economical” than we are so we should lower our rates to match if we want the business. I responded that the situation is backwards; we should not match rates, they should match our service. I expect what the customer was receiving was not a PM but an electrical safety test and perhaps a filter cleaning but what was alarming is that ultrasound was grouped in with these other devices.
This illustrated a dramatic and increasing inequality in the ultrasound service world; there are times when I think ultrasound is perceived as the Rodney Dangerfield of the imaging world and “gets no respect.” True, reimbursements for ultrasound exams are lower than other modalities and for medical emergencies, ultrasound is relied on less that say CT, x-ray or MRI but that does not mean servicing and supporting ultrasound should be taken any less seriously. When I think of servicing any medical device, I imagine a loved one on the table being examined and diagnosed by the exam outcome of the device.
When evaluating ultrasound service providers, it is important to discern if they are trained as experts in the modality and understand ultrasound systems and images. You also want to ensure quality, reconditioned and tested parts are utilized as opposed to merely harvested ones that may have worked at the time of salvage.
When Preventative Maintenance is needed, does the provider follow guidelines and regulations set forth by all the various accreditation and regulatory organizations (see last month’s TechNation article entitled “The Alphabet Soup of Ultrasound Accreditation Organizations”) overseeing ultrasound? Is everything done to mitigate downtime during the PM including full system backups, thorough internal and external cleaning, configuration captures, probe inspections and probe care process evaluations?
I would like to help begin to swing the pendulum in the opposite direct and recognize the ultrasound modality for the truly modern miracle it is when it comes to patient care, safety and outcomes and treat it with the respect it deserves.