By Matthew N. Skoufalos on January 31, 2014
When the Center for primary Care in Evans, Ga., was ready to expand its operations to include medical imaging services, the facility hit an early snag.
The cost of buying new-in-box medical equipment was far too prohibitive for the local facility to cover. So it leaned on its longstanding relationship with independent service organization (ISO) Medical Imaging Technologies (MIT) of Thomson, Ga.
“When we first started talking to them, they didn’t have a CT [unit] because the OEM prices were too high,” said Sarah player, who works in marketing for MIT. Not only did MIT help source an affordable refurbished scanner for the Center for primary Care in 2005, but three years later, when the facility decided to upgrade from an external, mobile installation to its own imaging center, the ISO was available to help consult on the new construction from scratch.
“We helped them with the plans, what the room specifications had to be, all the electrical components” player said. “We’ve tried to do it for all of our customers if they’re building from the ground up.”
In addition to resolving potential headaches before they can surface — trying to fit equipment in a too-small room, tearing up walls and floors before the move-in, or rewiring insufficient electrical work — player said being available for an early consult brings her company closer to its clients.
“We don’t have to take those extra steps; we can just put the CT in and service it,” she said. “We just go above and beyond.”
Moreover, player said, after the initial CT installation, MIT upgraded the unit it was leasing the Center for primary Care to another model after a year or so without any additional charge.
“We will go out and try to find the best price on a used CT that we can through a broker, and then we bring the [units] in and refurbish almost everything,” she said. “We repaint it, we check all the parts, we replace a lot of them. We don’t charge for the refurbishing.”
“We basically only charge the customer what we bought the CT for, and if they want a contract, we service it for a year,” player said.
Philip James, CT technician at the Center for primary Care Imaging Center, said that in the two years he’s worked with MIT, “They bend over backwards to help you if you need things.”
“They’ve been great to work with in general,” James said.
The service company benefits from its proximity to the facility, which allows MIT to answer most service calls within the length of a 30-minute car ride. But James said the personal touch he enjoys from the ISO goes far beyond that: he recollects one occasion in which the company was able to offer a replacement part from one of the center’s other devices to get its scanner back up and running within the afternoon. That kind of turnaround not only saves time and money, but also allows the facility to better serve its patients.
“They’re here any time we call,” James said. “I think the longest we’ve had to wait is maybe 30 or 45 minutes for somebody to get here. [In] the two years I’ve been with them, the longest we’ve been down with any kind of service issue has been maybe three or four hours, if that.”
As many providephilip James, Crs increasingly discover the value of pre-owned equipment and ISOs to their bottom lines, James said, the stigma associated with not exclusively turning to an OEM for technology needs is evaporating in the face of positive and practical experiences.
James said the used equipment the center has acquired is just as good as brand new devices.
“I worked for seven-and-a-half years with a group of cardiologists,” James said. “They bought a brandnew Siemens unit and they paid out the wazoo for it. I told them, ‘You’re still going to have to pay for a service contract.’ ”
“This is the third refurb’d unit I’ve worked on compared to brand new ones, and they’re just as reliable as the others,” he said. “They refurbished them to the point where the specs were on them when they were brand new.”
The Center for primary Care operates all GE equipment, including a 16-slice scanner, a 1.5-Tesla MR unit, and a radiography room, all of which are pre-owned devices, James said. When the Center began performing virtual colonoscopies, the equipment actually needed a software upgrade to get it up and running. He said MIT performed the update at no charge, and at a significant cost savings.
James said that decision-makers at the Center for primary Care “had looked at getting GE to do it, and it was not going to be worth what they wanted” because GE would have charged a premium price for upgrading equipment for which the center was not the original owner.
“With a lot of fresh-out-ofthe-box [purchases], they tell you they’ll give you this, they’ll give you that, but it’s only on a trial basis,” James said. “There’s nothing extra, nothing special.”
MIT, however, provides the personal touch that makes a difference, he said.
“They’re going to do whatever they’ve got to do to get you what you need,” James said.
“We’ve gotten everything we thought we were going to get with these units and then some. They look out for their customers.”
One of the ways in which that personal touch is reflected, James said, is in the availability of representatives from MIT to help troubleshoot problems and their willingness to work with their customers to keep the equipment operating. The layers of corporate insulation that often keep the customers of larger vendors at arm’s length aren’t present with many ISOs, and that makes a difference, he said.
“It’s mostly family working in it, like your hometown hardware store,” James said. “Whether they do or not, you get the impression that they care. They want you to be able to succeed and help you do what you need to do.”
“They paid more attention to the detail of what needed to be done,” he said. “That comes from the way [CEO] Rick [player] runs the company.”
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