As hospitals face potential funding cuts in this era of reimbursement uncertainty, there's an urgent need to stretch existing dollars. One solution, that appears attractive, is buying refurbished rather than new medical equipment for replacement of existing items or to equip a remodeled or expanded facility.
The dilemma, though, is what really constitutes refurbishment and is refurbished equipment safe? The FDA is so concerned that they requested feedback from those involved on various issues such as quality, safety and effectiveness of repaired, reconditioned, refurbished and remanufactured equipment.
A Definition of Refurbished Medical Equipment
One problem is that there is no universally accepted understanding of what refurbishment means. To some, it means the equipment is completely disassembled, inspected and every worn part replaced with a new part so the finished article is literally as good as new. However, this definition is not cast in stone and could equally apply to equipment that's been repaired and spruced up to look like new which is still very much second-hand.
Knowing the Difference
While purchasing fully refurbished medical equipment may make good sense financially, the same cannot be said if the equipment is simply repaired or reconditioned. For this reason, it's essential to verify that vendors sell fully refurbished equipment. Here are several pointers to look for:
- Model Number: Model number, accessories, and software should all relate to the right equipment. Also, verify that software supplied is the right version.
- Documentation: Check that the vendor is certified to refurbish equipment and is insured.
- Original Replacement Parts: Have original factory parts been used?
- Manuals: Are operator manuals supplied?
- Training: Verify that the vendor's technicians are certified to repair, test and calibrate the equipment.
- Warranty: Equipment must be supplied with a warranty.
When It Makes a Difference
When determining whether to buy refurbished equipment or bite the bullet and pay the price for the new item, consider the following:
- Is it a high-tech vital piece of equipment? If it fails could it put the life or well-being of a patient in jeopardy? If so, go with new. If it's low tech, non-vital, refurbished may be OK.
- What is the expected use life of the product and how will that be affected? The longer the expected use life, the more likely you will want to buy new.
- Do you have background experience with that particular piece of equipment? If so, you probably know, and can address its particular operational peculiarities. If not, buy new.
- Similarly, do you have a number of other same model units on hand? If so, fine. If not, you might want to go with a new piece.
Making the Right Choice
Making the right choice requires extensive knowledge of equipment functionality and operation. This is why it helps to work with Concordance Healthcare Solutions. We have highly skilled medical equipment specialists who are able to guide you in this decision process. Contact us here for help in guiding your equipment purchase decisions.