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Medical Imaging Equipment Service: OEM vs. ISO [Round 2]

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The epic conflict rages on as OEM service and ISO service continue battling toe-to-toe for your business. Since the publication of our original article on Medical Imaging Equipment Service: OEM vs. ISO some additional considerations have come to light. If any of you were still on the fence at the end of that post, what you're about to read could send you sprawling face-first into the ISO camp.


  • OEM = Original Equipment Manufacturer

  • ISO = Independent Service Organization

Site Identification Numbers/Passwords/Account IDs

These little guys can be a great help to you if you want to get your call put in quickly with the OEM and get back to work. Having your site ID on hand helps an OEM service team lookup all of your site’s information and call history in a few moments.

If you didn’t buy your system from an OEM, you might not have one of these. Many OEMs will not dispatch an engineer to work on a system until an identifier for it has been processed into their records. Often, this processing delays service by one to three days, completely disrupting patient schedules and costing money. On the other hand, most ISOs offer service on a time and materials basis and do not require any pre-approval processing.


Multi-Manufacturer Service

Medical imaging facilities frequently spread the love when they buy imaging equipment. For example, you might find a GE mammo, a Siemens R/F, and a Philips C-Arm all under the same roof, all needing PMs and suffering occasional breakdowns. Calling three different OEM hotlines, dealing with three different dispatchers (likely more if you call more than once), and processing invoices from three different companies can be a hassle logistically.

Many ISOs work on equipment across a spectrum of manufacturers. Also, an independent engineer is more likely to have cross-modality training. Even if an ISO has to send in three of their engineers to cover all the systems mentioned above, working with a more consistent body of dispatchers and a single A/P department simplifies things on the back end.


Used Parts Availability

After the downtime and the disruptions that come with equipment failure, the last thing an owner/user wants to see is a high estimate for parts to fix the issue. OEM parts estimates are frequently much higher than parts estimates from ISOs because of brand-name association and the fact that some of them are new. It's a common misconception that OEMs use all new replacement parts. Though some are new, many others are "rebuilt" or "refurbished".

An ISO is likely to maintain an inventory of their own parts or at least source parts through a network of reliable parts suppliers. These parts, many of which are of comparable quality to OEM "rebuilds" are available for much less. Many sites feel more secure about having manufacturer-supplied parts installed and perhaps do not relize that used parts purchased from a reputable vendor are tested, fully functional, and often include warranties in the rare case they do happen to fail.


Granted, we ARE an ISO and we’d love to have your business, but we hope you won’t take our words with too many grains of salt. We’re not saying that OEM engineers are under-qualified or that OEM parts are unreliable; on the contrary, OEM engineers do some great work and most of their parts enjoy a low rate of failure (equal to ours), but each site has to decide how much it is willing to pay and what hoops it’s willing to jump through in a clerical sense. If a site does their homework, a quality ISO can save them money, save them downtime, and save them some of the headaches of the dispatch cycle.


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