Ongoing service is an important investment for any piece of medical imaging equipment, and yes, it's smart to shop around for competitive service pricing, but not all service contracts are created equal. If the price of an agreement you're considering seems too good to be true, maybe you've stumbled across the best service deal ever; or maybe some crucial aspect of coverage isn't included.
Before you sign up with a service provider, double-check their C-arm service offerings for these five important, cost-driving features.
Your C-arm's glassware (or X-ray tube and image intensifier) are the most expensive parts to replace on the whole system. What's more, almost every C-arm system in regular service goes through several tubes in the course of its lifespan. You're all but guaranteed to need at least one replacement, and a service contract that doesn't cover glassware leaves you footing the bill for it.
A variant of glassware coverage you might see from time-to-time is prorated coverage. Prorated coverage starts off with full liability for glassware replacement in your provider's hands. As the contract elapses, however, liability gradually shifts to you. While this model does mitigate some of the risk associated with tube replacement, there is still a good chance you'll be paying for most of your glassware replacement, as the likelihood of failure increases with age.
Guaranteed Response Time
Look for a guaranteed response time or on site time after a call is placed. We like to give providers the benefit of the doubt that none of them would ever try to work beyond their means, but if a smaller service company gets slammed with several calls at once, can you be sure they'll get to you in a reasonable amount of time?
Here are a couple of questions that might help when you discuss this with a potential provider: How close is your nearest engineer? How many engineers do you have in the area?
Guaranteed Uptime Percentage
There is nothing more frustrating than having to cancel patients because a unit is hard down. Some service providers try to save money by taking their time, believing that these savings can be passed on to customers, and they, the provider, can win more business by being priced lower. What actually happens is customers lose even more money by having to cancel appointments with patients. Believe us- saving a couple thousand dollars on a service contract doesn’t matter much if your site is hard down for a week.
A provider who makes an uptime guarantee is more deeply invested in responding to and resolving your issue with speed. This provider is committing to your machine being able to scan patients for at least a specific percentage of the time your contract covers. Block Imaging, for example, offers a 98% uptime guarantee to contract customers. If the guarantee is made and your provider falls short, they will be expected to compensate you for that lost time. This is often done by extending your service coverage, free of charge, for a period of time commensurate with the loss.
Limit of Liability
What is the maximum amount a service provider would spend in a year to keep your system running? Have you noted that amount in their contract language? There are some individual parts on a C-arm that can cost almost as much as the price of a whole service contract to replace. Check for a limit of liability that gives you enough of a financial buffer to be fully covered, even if a couple of major parts (tube, image intensifier, major computer boards, etc.) happen to fail in the same year.
What happens when a unit can’t be repaired? However unlikely, there is always the possibility that a C-arm might have a problem that can't be fixed. When something disastrous happens, what response does the contract you're considering promise to enact? Do you get a loaner? A discounted rental? A full replacement? Some of these contingencies are tough for a smaller provider to cover. Be sure there's clarity in writing, or you could find yourself subject to whichever solution is most cost-effective for your service company- not necessarily for you.
It's 100% true in the imaging equipment service market that the most expensive coverage isn't necessarily the best. It's also a safe bet that the cheapest coverage isn't the best either. The cost savings of a cheaper contract begin to disappear quickly when your facility is liable for the most expensive aspects of an equipment emergency. The safest way to purchase a service agreement for your C-arm is to dig deep into the contract language and look for the five features mentioned above. If all of them are present, conversations surrounding cost become much more meaningful.
If you have questions about C-arm service coverage or need C-arm service right now, use the button below to contact our team. We're ready to help!