Your facility’s imaging equipment is a major investment, and major investments need protection. A service contract can be that layer of protection, preventing equipment failures from causing extended downtime and reducing your patient throughput.
Service contracts offer several forms of coverage. Labor and most parts are covered – and some contracts also provide preventative maintenance and priority response. These can all provide ongoing value to your organization by minimizing downtime and optimizing performance.
Before partnering with a service provider, though, you’ll need to understand what’s in the contract and whether it provides ample coverage for your organization’s needs.
What Does an Imaging Equipment Service Contract Include?
Most service providers offer several contract options, depending on your desired level of coverage. Full coverage and partial coverage contracts are both common, and they may include the following benefits:
Unlimited Support Calls
With a full-service contract, hospitals, radiology clinics and other medical facilities can call on their service provider as often as needed. When a problem occurs you will call and speak directly to a service engineer, where they will troubleshoot any equipment issues. Often troubles can be addressed remotely. If the engineer determines a part needs to be replaced or further diagnostics will need to be done on site, an engineer is dispatched to the imaging location with parts in hand.
There’s an underrated perk of signing onto a full-service contract. While the technician is onsite, they will be available to answer any questions about the equipment’s performance. They may be able to solve those nagging minor issues that aren’t worth a service call on their own. Is that motorized table not adjusting as quickly as it should? Does the scanner’s keyboard have a stuck key? Do you hear a whirring noise coming from the tube housing? With a full-service contract, the technician can consider these minor issues while they’re onsite, and possibly help your organization avoid expensive repairs down the line.
Preventative maintenance is a standard part of any full-service contract, though it can be requested as a separate service with its own contract.
Preventative maintenance is recommended at least quarterly, and when it’s your organization’s turn, your service provider will send a technician to your facilities.
Think of preventative maintenance like a pit stop for your MRI, CT and X-ray equipment. Once the technician is onsite, they will assess your equipment’s condition and performance. This includes inspecting any high-wear parts, like bearings, magnets, coils, and the system’s electronics. If necessary, they will arrange for any part replacements. The technician will also verify that your imaging technology is calibrated for optimal throughput and image quality.
If you are considering future upgrades for your imaging system, a full-service contract may also cover the parts and labor involved.
Priority Response Times
A full-service contract offers benefits beyond coverage for parts and labor. If you’re partnered with a service provider long term, they may offer your organization priority response times for any service calls. That means you get bumped to the front of the line when multiple calls are active.
Coverage for Parts
A full-service contract also covers the price of parts and the labor needed to replace them. Coils, boards, amps, detectors, positioners, generators, tables, and various imaging accessories may all be covered by your plan. Coverage may be full or partial, and exclusions may apply, so pay extra attention to this part of the contract.
Before Signing a Service Contract, Ask These Questions
With service contracts, details matter. And when it comes to imaging equipment service contracts, here are the details to focus on:
- The extent of your parts coverage – Some CT and MRI components are just too expensive to completely cover with a service contract. X-ray tubes are one example, as a single new tube may wipe out your coverage limits on its own.
That’s why you’ll want to verify what you’re getting with your parts coverage. Are there any excluded components? What portion does the service provider cover? There may be some room to negotiate certain additions, like glassware coverage.
- Where the technician team is located – The service provider’s technician must be available every day of the week. Make sure technicians can be on site for repairs as needed within 12-24 hours.
- Any contract exclusions – Like with any contract, there will be exclusions on your service contract too. In most cases, these are reasonable exclusions. For example, if the imaging room overheats because the thermostat malfunctions, any imaging equipment in the room may also fail. This wouldn’t be covered by a service contract. Likewise, damage caused by natural disasters wouldn’t be covered.
Other exclusions may include certain parts of the imaging system. This could be the aforementioned glassware, or any chillers attached to the system. It’s likely that these system components (chillers are part of the HVAC system, not imaging system) will not be covered under a service agreement.
- The equipment brands the service provider is familiar with – Some service providers are brand specialists, making them the next best thing to the OEM’s own technicians. They understand the vendor’s equipment intimately, have better access to components, and can perform maintenance with better efficiency. That means lower labor costs and faster turnaround time on service requests.
One more thing to consider before signing onto a service contract is experience. Does your service provider have it? Imaging technology is complex and costly, but there are no licensing or certification measures in place to qualify technicians. That leaves medical organizations with a challenge – finding a service provider they can trust.
Experience, previous success with similar organizations and a responsive, client-first mindset are the defining characteristics of a reputable service provider. Your service partner should be detailed in what they offer and their capabilities. And they should be willing to provide references on request.
Selectivity is important with an imaging equipment service provider. A reputable team is more like a long-term technology partner than an on-call technician. They don’t just fix what breaks – they protect your imaging resources, extend their lifespan, and optimize their performance.