Here’s how to save money with your equipment

Buying equipment and servicing it can be a major drain on your program’s finances. But you can save a significant amount of money by being actively involved in purchasing and maintaining equipment, says Jerry Henderson, RN, CNOR, CASC, executive director of SurgiCenter of Baltimore in Owings Mills, MD.

For example, consider using someone other than the manufacturer staff to perform maintenance and repairs on your equipment. SurgiCenter of Baltimore uses a former hospital employee who is certified in biomedical engineering to perform preventive maintenance on much of the equipment, Henderson says. The center has a contract with the biomedical engineer, who charges on a per-item basis.

"He does it cheaper for us than if we had gone through the manufacturer," she says.

For the center’s anesthesia equipment, preventive maintenance is performed by a person who formerly worked for one of the major anesthesia equipment manufacturers, Henderson explains. This employee is certified to work on the center’s equipment brand, and he maintains his certification, she says.

"It’s cheaper than going through the company," Henderson says. All manufacturers will warn you that if you go outside their company for maintenance and repairs, you won’t receive official parts, she says. However, Henderson says her experience has been positive.

Another option is to ask to receive two years of preventative maintenance for the price of one year, sources say. Also, you can ask vendors to double or triple the length of the warranties.

Consider these other suggestions:

• Don’t rely entirely on group purchasing organizations. "Some things we get cheaper through them," Henderson says. "Others, we negotiate on our own."

• Examine the service/repair history of older equipment. "Sometimes, it is more cost-efficient to replace old equipment than to continue to repair it," she adds.

• Consider refurbished models. "When replacing equipment, often a refurbished model will work just as well as new model and cost significantly less," Henderson says.

• Obtain references. When purchasing equipment, talk to other same-day surgery programs to see which vendors they’re using, she suggests. Also, you can ask the manufacturer for references, Henderson says. "Make sure they’re reputable and giving the service they say they will," she says.

• Work with local companies. SurgiCenter of Baltimore has been able to obtain its computers and printers at a reduced rate by working with the information systems department at a local accounting firm, Henderson says. "But you have to price it out and look around," she adds.

Also, some local manufacturers will offer reduced prices to you because they want to keep your business, sources say.

• Have two phone services. "We are constantly looking at our phone bills to see where we can get best deals," Henderson says. The centers currently has two phone services. "If either line goes down, we still have service," she says. "We learned that the hard way."

• Have your staff well trained in maintenance. "The better you have your staff trained to take care of the equipment, the lower your costs for repairs," Henderson says.

"It’s an important investment in your staff."

[Does your program have a cost-saving idea to share? Contact Joy Dickinson, P.O. Box 740056, Atlanta, GA 30374. Telephone: (229) 551-9195. Fax: (229) 551-0539. E-mail: joy.dickinson@thomson.com.]

Sources

For more information on saving money, contact:

  • Jerry Henderson, RN, CNOR, CASC, Executive Director, SurgiCenter of Baltimore, 23 Crossings Drive, Suite 100, Owings Mills, MD 21117. Tele-phone: (410) 356-0300. E-mail: jerryh@surgicenterofbalt.com.