1. More and more people are (very wisely) shopping around.
2. There are an awful lot of "nuts and bolts" items that can be easy to overlook amongst the pages.
This article exists because of observation number 2. The following list contains 5 of the contract items most commonly overlooked by people shopping the secondary C-arm market.
When reviewing a quote, keep these in mind. It will almost always have a big impact on the bottom line of your purchase.
Does the service portion of your contract include parts and labor, or just parts? In our experience, this item is 50/50 among 3rd-party providers. Many of these groups are small companies without the infrastructure to cover labor. Larger companies are more likely to have in-house field engineers or customer service reps who can get a contracted engineer to your site in a timely fashion. If full service coverage is important to you, you'll need to ask this question.
Does the service portion cover all of the system's major components? Are the tube, image intensifier, and CCD camera included in the agreement? You'd be surprised how often they aren't. Leaving out this coverage is almost like offering a car warranty that doesn't cover the engine or transmission.
Even if coverage is offered, take a closer look at the scope of the provider you're considering. If you need to replace a $20,000 part, how prepared will a "one man show" kind of company be to write that check?
Refurbished or Refurb-"ish"?
If you're leaning toward a refurbished system, what is included in your provider's refurbishment process? There is no standardized refurbishment procedure for C-arms. As a result, some are great, like-new units while others are questionable. Ask for a detailed list of refurbishment steps. If you'd like an example list, click here to see Block Imaging's.
Ask for a timeline as well. If they're beginning refurbishment Monday afternoon and promise to have it ready by Wednesday, it's likely they're cutting corners somewhere.
Are all the up-front costs included in the quoted price? Taxes, delivery to your site, installation, training; are any of these items you will need to request and could be charged more for? Look for specific language on these inclusions.
What about FDA filing? It is the installer's responsibility to fill out and file form 2579 with the FDA to register the location of your unit. If the company who is quoting you isn’t sending an installing engineer and you don’t have the 2579 paperwork, the consequences on the compliance end could be stiff.
What accessories will come with the unit? Don’t assume printers, laser aimers, DICOM boxes, or other accessories are part of the bargain. Carefully note which items are mentioned specifically and ask about the rest.
While this list isn't all-inclusive (there are plenty of other things to check on before you sign an agreement), we hope it's a solid starting place for making a well-informed C-arm purchasing decision. If you have other questions, make sure you don't hesitate to ask any provider you're considering.