Raise your hand if this sounds like you: You’ve had diagnostic imaging equipment break down and, in the course of finding a solution, run across third party companies who try to “upsell” their capabilities and knowledge in certain modalities or services. If your hand is up, put it down; you’re drawing stares. But like us, you’ve learned the hard way that some companies are able to stand by their claims and some, unfortunately, are not.
The Frustration Mounts
Let’s say you are in a pickle and you need someone to fix your mammo unit ASAP. You remember a company you called to fix your C-Arm, maybe they work on more modalities. You call them to see if they can help out and their response is: “Oh sure! We’ve fixed plenty of mammo units. We can handle this one”. They did an excellent job on the C-arm and you have no reason to think they can’t service the mammo, so you hire them. Then they show up and can’t seem to diagnose the problem, let alone fix it. The frustration mounts, because you now need to get someone else out there who knows what they are doing. Time has been wasted and the unit is still down.
How does this happen exactly? They said they could fix it. They said they knew mammos. Doesn’t anyone’s word mean anything anymore?
The Problem We Face
The problem we face in our industry is that there really is no specific college degree for fixing medical imaging equipment. Sure lots of engineers have engineering degrees, which help, but most of their “education” is either received from working for a certain OEM or years and years of experience, which usually started with an OEM.
OEMs train their employees in their product lines, so they are equipped for handling most situations with relative ease. However, OEMs tend to charge an arm and a leg (sometimes two) just to diagnose the problem. Then you have to order parts and pay for labor by the hour. I think you get the picture, but if not, here’s a visual $$$$$$. This is typically the impetus to look for third-party help.
Fact is, there are ISO certified third-party vendors who are very knowledgeable in servicing certain modalities and you could save a lot of money going with them. As I said above, the best ones usually have worked for the OEM’s at one time or another before venturing out on their own so they know the equipment rather well. Some independent vendors with years of experience get calls from OEM engineers looking for answers when they are stumped. Unfortunately, vendors like the one mentioned above give excellent, well-trained third-party vendors/engineers a bad name.
So, how do you know who’s an expert and who’s just hard-up for work? There is no easy answer to this. Building trusting relationships and truly knowing who you are working with seems to be the key. The fact of the matter is you need to do your homework. Remember: It doesn’t hurt to ASK!
- Ask around with a variety of vendors and get references from them
- Ask them about their training history and or how long they have been working with that modality
- Ask them some basic questions concerning the modality. If they can’t answer those and even you know them… that’s a BIG red flag!
- Ask them if they understand their FDA, and state obligations as a vendor
- Ask them to simply be honest with you… in the long run it will benefit you both!!
Don’t let one bad apple spoil it for the rest of us. Remember, with some leg work on the front end you can build trust-based relationships with reliable vendors, weed out vendors who over-promise and under-deliver, and save a ton of money on labor, parts, and lost scan time. Leave us a comment or send me a note if you have questions concerning third party vendors. I would love to answer your questions honestly and get you the right help the first time around.
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