Medical Dealer magazine recently quizzed Summit Imaging CEO Larry Nguyen about ultrasound probes and what HTM professionals needs to know about these devices.
Q: What are the most important things to look for in a reputable third-party ultrasound probe provider?
Nguyen: The most important credential to look for in a third-party ultrasound probe provider is whether their Quality Management System (“QMS”) is certified to ISO 13485 standards. This assures repairs are performed in house and quality is controlled. Quality of product and service are critical as it directly impacts patient safety and equipment downtime. The higher the quality of the supplier the lower the total cost of ownership for health care facilities.
Q: Is it possible to keep up with ultrasound probe technology without buying brand new?
Nguyen: It is possible to keep up with ultrasound probe technology without buying brand new. Equipment is generally available, but the critical factor is if the ultrasound system being used has the capabilities to run the newest transducers. If it is not, an option must be purchased through the OEM. If it is available, the transducer will become a plug and play application for the user.
Q: Can you describe your ultrasound probe refurbishment process.
Nguyen: Our ISO 13485:2003 certified QMS governs our ultrasound probe refurbishment process and begins and ends with thorough evaluation and image quality testing on live ultrasound systems. Live ultrasound systems are needed to capture intermittent image quality issues to properly diagnose the problem. After diagnosis, the transducer is disassembled to access the location of the problem and the proper repairs are performed by an IPC certified technician. The transducer is reassembled and thoroughly tested again to confirm the repairs resolved the issues originally found during diagnosis.
Q: What kind of custom options do you offer?
Nguyen: Summit Imaging offers many custom options that are generally driven by the type of customer. Some options include: full transducer repair coverage for hospital networks, on-site care and maintenance training to prevent unnecessary damage, and forensic reporting and analysis of incoming transducer damages. We are always open to special requests from customers who have specific needs.
Q: Many believe the OEM is the safest option for ultrasound probe service, but service contracts are expensive. Howwould you convince them that a third-party provider can provide the same level of service as the OEM?
Nguyen: A certified ISO 13485 QMS should be required by health care facilities for their suppliers to provide probe repair and replacement services to them as this certification considers patient safety as an important issue of product and service quality. In addition to the certification, a total cost of ownership analysis comparing an OEM service contract to a transducer repair model will likely inform health care facilities that transducer repair services significantly lower their total cost of ownership.
Q: What are the most important things to look for when seeking service for ultrasound probes?
Nguyen: Verify that your supplier’s QMS has an ISO 13485 certification with a scope encompassing ultrasound transducer repair. This is critical to ensure the proper systems are in place to protect patients’ safety.
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