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When buying medical imaging equipment, 6 things to remember might sound simple. When you work with this every day it might be. But if this is the first time that you invest in equipment of this type it might not be that simple. Maybe it has been a while since the last time? We hope that this blog post can be of relevance to you.
Which 6 things are important to remember when buying used medical equipment? We all want to get the best. But what is “the best” when buying used medical equipment on a budget? In our opinion, it is getting a device capable of doing exactly the exams you need for your patients – no more, no less. Why pay for cardiac software, if you don’t do cardiac examinations?
The balance between needed configuration, price and availability is delicate.
Finding the “perfect match” is almost impossible, but it happens. If you find it available – do not hesitate to close the deal and fast! But in most cases, you would need to compromise.
Either way, it’s a good idea to be mindful and consider what is nice to have and what you need to have. This can save you a lot – both money and headaches.
Listed below are the 6 elements we think you should consider when looking for the perfect match.
What do you need?
Brand new equipment is tailored for your needs and as such a perfect match – but it also comes at a price. So, is that always what you need to best take care of your patient’s needs? Often what you would like and what you need are two very different things. Of course, this also depends on your budget. Perhaps getting 95% of what you believe you need at 50% of the cost is good enough? This is the real advantage when you buy something preowned.
Medical imaging equipment does not become useless or obsolete overnight due to a previous owner. Any diagnostic system which has been under service from day 1 will easily go on for another 5-10 years. If it is under the careful watch of an independent service provider. One thing is certain, this type of equipment is a heavy investment and that means that you take care of it. So, even though the first owner replaced it for a new model, it can still be of tremendous good use in another place.
You know what you like and need. Now what?
Now you find the best match between the needed medical imaging device and your budget. It is important to think of the budget as the entire investment. Not only the cost of the equipment hardware. What about the site requirements? The refurbishing requirements? And what should you expect for a lifetime investment?
For instance, the same model CT scanner can come with different tube models. This means, if you need a new one, this can set you back anything from EUR 40.000 to 140.000. On average the models with expensive tubes are available at a lower initial investment. This is very important to take into consideration when deciding on a piece of imaging equipment. What may look cheap at first could with ease end up quite expensive.
Of course, when deciding on the right system, you also need to consider how many patients you’ll be doing per day. Rule of thumb: The more patients you do, the bigger a tube you need. This is very important as bigger tubes have a better cooling capacity. If you try to do a LOT of patients on a small tube it will take a longer time to cool down. On top, you will in general need to replace the tube more often. And it is always somewhat expensive to replace the X-ray tube.
You never get something for nothing
Even though you have to consider your budget, you can still buy your imaging equipment too cheap. The cheapest on the pre-owned market is very often not what you need. No rules without exceptions, but often an otherwise popular model is often only cheap if nobody wants to buy it. Which often means it has been in heavy use, has known issues or a high tube count. As such what initially looks cheap will in the long run often prove very costly.
What you need is a long-lasting solution. A solution which keeps lifetime costs low and uptime high. When your equipment is down, then you cannot take care of your patients and that is expensive. You have to consider all this when you decide which offer is best for you in the long run. Usually, this means a somewhat higher initial investment. With that investment comes a smaller risk for expensive downtime or extra costs.
Refurbished is better than used?
Not always. It depends on many factors. One factor is what level of refurbishing you need. Often there are many ways to refurbish imaging equipment. It’s a balance between functionality and lifetime cost expectations. That means you always have to take into consideration if the benefit matches the cost. If the refurbishment is, in reality, removing dust, painting covers and replacing brushes. Then this will not bring you any extra up-time security. It may of course still be of importance to you.
No matter what: make sure the definition of “refurbished” is very clear in your contract. Every company in the industry has its definition and as such, you can take nothing for granted.
If you need a consultation to determine if refurbished is what you need, please contact us. We are always ready to answer your questions and help you choose what is best in your case. This is, of course, free of charge.
Inspect your equipment
Before you buy any type of used medical imaging equipment. We recommend that you spend a bit of time and money to inspect the chosen equipment. Preferably, do so before it is de-installed from its original location. This gives you the possibility to perform a few scans on the system and check the basic functionality and image quality. On another note, if your source can’t show you on-site what they are selling, then they might not own the equipment. If this is the case, buying anything from them is not the best idea.
If you are not a capable user of the equipment, make sure to bring someone along with the proper training. Remember the inspection is your opportunity to check if all is as it should be. Often the inspection is your sole window to make your own test of the quality of the equipment.
Trust is imminent
You know what type of equipment you need. You know your budget. Who do you choose to help you with your purchase? You always want to make a full check of the background of your final supplier. Who are they? Do you know anyone who will recommend someone to you?
There are plenty of online companies with shiny webpages offering great systems and even better prices. Sometimes it is simply too good to be true. Trustworthy suppliers come in many shapes and sizes. For a first deal, it is often a good idea to visit them. Go see their facility and sound them out. This may cost you a little for a plane ticket and hotel, but compared to buying a system from the wrong company this is money well spent.
To a wide extent buying a used piece of diagnostic equipment is based on trust. Make sure you are comfortable with your chosen supplier.
One final thing
Always buy from a serious and trustworthy company. A company with the know-how and experience to cater to your needs. Of course, we hope you will buy from FlexRay Medical, but if not, then at least buy from another IAMERS member.
Back in 2017, we wrote a post on some of the things to remember when buying medical imaging equipment on a budget. To this day that post is still one of our most popular blog posts. That is why we have written this updated post.
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