This article will appear in the upcoming July-August print issue of Surgical Products.
To subscribe to Surgical Products, click here.
Let’s face it; hospital equipment can often take quite a beating with little effort. From small surgical instruments, like scissors or scalpels that can be easily dropped during a procedure, to large capital equipment, such as hospital beds that accidently get banged up during room transfers, it’s not uncommon that a number of valuable tools can breakdown on any given day.
When surgeons are in the operating room performing a procedure, it is essential that they are able to focus on the important task at hand and not worry if their equipment is going to withstand the operation. Hospital leadership and healthcare workers should feel confident that their instruments are working properly and that they are ready and available when they need them. To bring a consistent level of confidence in a facility’s equipment, providers are increasingly investing in reliable instrument repair that involves bringing equipment, whether broken or not functioning to its highest standard, back to its original performance level in a timely manner. When hospitals invest in quality care of their equipment, it allows them to provide better patient care and save money.
Since many repair services cover an extensive range of equipment, they are often able to provide a lot of value to hospitals by repairing or servicing the equipment instead of replacing it. A few ways hospitals benefit include: increased uptime, more ability to control hospital costs, and continued commitment to high quality service to patients. Let’s take a closer look.
Providing Value Through Increased Uptime
When instruments are not working properly or are unavailable, hospitals experience downtime and are not able to operate efficiently. Uptime is especially critical in the OR. For example, if a necessary tool, such as a sagittal saw, is not operating to original equipment manufacturer (OEM) standards, there can be untimely delays in the patient’s procedure, impacting the patient’s care and wasting valuable operating time, as staff and the patient wait for a replacement or alternative to become available.
When hospitals choose to repair an item, some repair services provide access to loaner equipment while their equipment is being serviced. Although the repairs are handled efficiently and the items are ready for use within a short period of time, hospitals can utilize the loaners to further minimize downtime. In fact, according to Gallup data from a 2011 survey conducted by Stryker ProCare, hospitals that used an equipment repair service program experienced on average a 32 percent reduction in downtime. In addition, if they chose a repair provider that offered loaner equipment, the hospitals experienced additional uptime because they could continue functioning at normal capacity while their equipment was being repaired.
Another way repair services can help increase uptime is to provide on-site equipment testing. When you think about it, if no one is testing your equipment prior to surgery, then who is? Unfortunately, it’s very likely that your OR staff takes on the task during surgery, which is the worst case scenario from an uptime perspective. On-site testing coupled with loaner availability increases uptime, reduces workload on the OR, central sterile, biomedical, and purchasing teams, and reduces the need for flashing equipment.
Capitalizing On Instrument Investment
When hospitals are investing in instruments and large capital equipment, it is important that they look at the total cost of ownership throughout the lifespan of the piece of equipment. As equipment repair becomes an option for hospitals, it allows them to capitalize on their original instrument purchase and take more control of their costs.
A simple repair could save your hospital thousands of dollars in replacement costs, maximizing your investment and ensuring your total cost of ownership is optimized. When you work with a repair service provider that has OEM certification, they have access to replacement parts directly from the manufacturer to ensure the equipment is working in compliance with the OEM standard. This can provide an added layer of confidence that the repair was made correctly and nearly eliminates any need for an immediate or subsequent “re-repair.”
Improved Patient Care
As instrument repair adds financial value to hospitals, it also brings value to their patients. Hospital staff can focus on their top priority, patient care, rather than whether or not the equipment will perform. Also, patients may experience fewer delays in care resulting from instruments being unavailable or broken
Finding The Best Value In Repair Providers
As simple as it may sound, quality repair for the diversity of equipment a hospital or surgery center uses throughout the course of the day cannot be delivered by just anyone. In healthcare, equipment repairs can be made to basic daily equipment like a waiting room chair, but in most cases, the repairs are on instruments used for patient care – and in some cases may even be critical in saving lives – and you want to make sure you have confidence in the qualifications of your provider.
For a hospital to maximize the value in instrument repair, it is important that they choose a provider that fits their needs. When making the decision to add instrument repair to a hospital, decision makers should look for a service that optimizes the life and value of their equipment. Strategies for choosing a provider can be quite complex with a variety of considerations, but below are a few tips to help determine the best fit.
- Evaluate: Start with evaluating your routine repair needs by determining how critical the equipment is to the care your facility provides and how often repairs are needed. This will help you determine what level of service matches your needs as repair providers range significantly in level of certifications, skills, and accessibility.
- Availability: It’s hard to predict when a valuable piece of equipment will go down, so it’s important to understand how long your provider will take to fit it into their schedule. Providers that have trouble-shooting helplines can also be a benefit in determining if there is a quick fix or if it needs a more thorough, off-site repair. Unusable equipment is expensive, so accessibility to your service provider’s expertise is of the essence.
- Commitment to Uptime: Determine in advance if the provider offers on-site support or if they can provide loaner instruments while yours is being repaired. Similar value-added services can increase your facilities uptime.
- Equipment Care Education: Repair providers who are dedicated to helping you maximize the life-cycle of your equipment can help identify if there are any care practices that can be improved to help minimize repairs. For example, some service providers can help you determine if the instrument is being cleaned and stored properly to maximize its lifespan.
- Highest Standards: Consider choosing a provider that has access to OEM original parts and the tools specifically designed to repair that equipment. Doing so can provide the hospital with confidence that their instruments operate in the manner in which they were originally designed and that the repair staff are trained to handle the instruments according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This can increase safety and confidence in the product, as simply replacing parts of a piece of equipment with a generic part can affect the performance of the equipment and be riskier in procedures.
Hospitals are constantly striving to provide quality patient care, while saving money. Utilizing instrument repairs gives them the opportunity to capitalize on their equipment and maximize uptime. Deep down, who delivers your repair service matters and a relationship with that provider should be built on their accountability to service your repair needs at the highest quality, in a timely fashion.
Alisandra (Alix) Rizzolo serves as vice president and general manager of customer care for Stryker Corporation’s Instruments Division. In her role, she leads an organization that is accountable for delivering an exceptional customer experience from point of order through the life-cycle of the product. She comes to Stryker with more than 20 years of experience in the office equipment industry and holds her Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Rochester: Simon School and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the State University of New York at Albany.