There's just no getting around the fact that medical equipment is expensive. Even if you manage to find gently used equipment that is in good condition and current enough to benefit your practice, you'll probably still shell out some dough for it. So you want to make sure it lasts as long as possible.
This requires you to practice proper care and maintenance, especially for the equipment you tend to use day in and day out. You need it to work properly so that you can offer your patients the best possible care. If it breaks down, not only are you left trying to figure out how to treat patients on the fly, but it doesn't exactly make your practice look reliable.
Even with proper maintenance and repair, you can't always control equipment failures, but your best bet to keep these pricy machines in good working order is consistent care. Here are a few maintenance and care tips to get you started.
1. Proper Usage
Maintaining your medical equipment starts with the way you treat it every day, including how you use it. Smacking your old tube TV may have improved reception, but it's definitely not going to make your sensitive equipment work better or faster.
Okay, so you're probably not going to hit your machinery, but if you're using it improperly, you might as well. Your mantra should be "use only as directed", and with most machinery, you'll have plenty of in-depth instructions to peruse. If you're not sure about proper usage, take the time to call customer support with any questions.
When you use equipment in a way that is not recommended, you not only risk harming the machinery (and possibly patients), but you may open yourself up to liability. In other words, it's important to practice proper usage.
2. Follow Manufacturer Guidelines
Manufacturers not only provide instructions related to how to properly use equipment, but also how to maintain it. Whether you're supposed to run regular diagnostics and updates to firmware and software or you're advised to hire professional technicians for regular inspection and maintenance, it's always best to follow manufacturer guidelines concerning maintenance.
This will give you the best opportunity to ensure proper function and longevity, as well as help you to avoid potentially costly snafus should machinery fail.
3. In-house Maintenance
There are certain maintenance and repair tasks for which your staff probably isn't qualified. However, you may find that you, your office personnel, or in-house support services (if you're in a hospital setting) can handle some of the basic maintenance tasks.
This could not only allow you some measure of immediate response should equipment suffer problems, reducing downtime, but it can also help to reduce the expense associated with ongoing equipment maintenance costs.
You just have to be aware of what you (or your support staff) are capable of handling so that you know when it's necessary to bring in professional help.
4. Hire Qualified Technicians
At the very least, you should have equipment serviced regularly by qualified technicians. Just like you hire an HVAC technician to inspect, clean, and maintain your home HVAC system annually and you take your car to the mechanic every three months or 3,000 miles, you should bring in the pros to maintain your medical equipment regularly.
You do have some options for service contracts, though. You could, for example, use OEM (original equipment manufacturer) technicians. These specialists are likely to be the costliest, but also the most qualified to maintain and repair equipment.
Another option is to hire third-party vendors. The upside here is that you'll likely pay a little less and technicians may be able to service a variety of equipment instead of just one brand or category. The potential drawback is that this vendor could be a Jack of all trades and a master of none, so to speak.
A final option is remote assistance. If you have an issue that requires immediate attention, customer support may be able to talk you through needed repairs or even access equipment that has internet connection capabilities in order to diagnose and fix problems.
5. Understand Warranties
Although proper usage, care, and maintenance should help to keep your equipment running properly for a good long while, problems can still occur. If this happens, you need to know how your warranty works so that you can receive compensation of some sort. Often, a failure to complete recommended maintenance could void your warranty.