When the time comes to bring in a new imaging system, swap out an old one, or sell one to clear out some space, some of the first questions that come to mind are, "Which system should I buy?" "How do I need to remodel for a new system?" or "How much will my next system cost?" These are all important questions that absolutely need to be addressed but, in our experience, a better question to answer first is: "Who's going to help me with my imaging equipment project?"
Choosing the right kind of vendor to work with is foundational to a strong project, especially as you navigate the "beefier" equipment like CT, MRI, PET/CT, and cath labs. Depending on your budget and what level of risk and responsibility your facility is willing to take on, there are several main vendor types to choose from. To help you choose, we've put together the following list of vendor types, along with a few areas where each one shines.
The Four Main Types of Imaging Equipment Vendors
Brokers are buyers and sellers, looking to make a small profit with as little risk as possible. They frequently sell equipment they do not actually own. Because of this, brokers are often the cheapest option. They sub-contract for refurbishment, installation, and service, or leave install and service up to the equipment site.
The biggest pro of working with a broker is, of course, lower pricing for equipment. The biggest con is being on your own to find installers and service engineers. Another con that happens from time to time, is a broker that provides a sub-par solution because they are solely focused on the short-term sale and not on the long-term business relationship that comes from more inclusive projects.
When to choose a broker: If your budget scenario makes controlling acquisition costs the chief concern, and if you have existing service relationships that can cover your new equipment, a purchase from a broker might be a good fit for you.
Equipment Providers/Service Organizations
Equipment providers and service organizations generally own the equipment they're selling and offer service warranties or coverage agreements for it through their own in-house engineering or vetted field service partners.
The big pro in working with an equipment provider or service organization is quality assurance and peace of mind. Because these groups have an obligation to cover service, they are highly incentivized to provide the best equipment they can from the very start. The con is a higher cost. Much of this cost can be offset, however, by the parts and labor that are included on the service side of the deal.
When to choose an equipment provider/service organization: If you're looking for a more comprehensive service arrangement and have a little more budgetary headroom, a purchase from an equipment provider/service organization might be a good fit for you.
Partners or parent companies bring a holistic solution, but request a percentage of the equipment or the business itself in exchange. These companies must provide the best solution, properly managed, to also make money, as they take on a vested interest in the business. They help by providing refurbishment, installation, service, techs or tech applications, and proforma help.
The pro to working with a partner or parent company is the all-inclusive nature of the solution. The con is that the fruits of your company's success must be shared over an extended period.
When to choose a partner or parent company: If financing your equipment independently is out of reach, or if you want assistance with site management, a partner or parent company might be a good fit for you.
The final option, is a consultant group. These groups bring the same, highly-inclusive benefits as parent and partner companies, without the shared ownership aspect. This distinction leaves the door open for the equipment facility to see a greater return from their investment. Consultant groups can provide service, refurbishment, installation, tech applications, and proforma help in an à la carte menu, tailored to the facility's needs and appetite for risk. And, like equipment providers and service organizations, these companies are incentivized to provide peak quality solutions, as they will be called upon to perform service and replace parts as needed under the warranty or service agreement.
The pros of working with a consultant group include full project management options and customization of your package to match your priorities: cost, coverage, time to ROI, or whatever! The con to choosing a consultant is that the degree of value they add means a higher initial outlay than some other options.
When to choose a consultant group: We believe that a consultant group is almost always a great fit. The only time we'd suggest eliminating them from your considerations is when your budgetary constraints are severe and/or you happen to have some kind of dependable, established in-house solution for your service and parts needs.
For large-scale projects like MRI, CT, PET/CT, and cath labs, there's a huge range of needs that vary on a site-by-site basis. It's a lot to navigate. The key takeaway to keep in mind as you begin approaching your own project is that you have options. Your unique situation doesn't have to be forced into an inadequate, one-size-fits-all solution. Our recommendation: stay curious, explore multiple vendor types, and ask plenty of questions. The best fit for your project will become clearer as you learn more.
If you're looking for a place to start, we're happy to help. Block Imaging most closely resembles the consultant group vendor type, so our team is ready to discuss any topic covered above, from purchases, to logistics, to warranties. Give us a call or drop a message with the button below!
Kevin Scharer is a Senior Account Executive at Block Imaging. His goal is to bring great value to equipment, parts, and service clients in the state of Indiana. When he’s not serving customers, Kevin enjoys college football, spending time with his family, and nice glass of bourbon.