Equipment Planners: How to Maximize Client Collaboration
Third-party equipment planners can be a tremendous asset to hospital systems undergoing construction and renovation. From serving as a trusted resource for key stakeholders to proactively sourcing new and unique equipment alternatives, third-party planners can help hospital systems save money while allowing decision-makers to focus on new business development and hospital utilization. Below are ten ways for third-party equipment planners to maximize client collaboration.
1) Serve as a single point of contact for all equipment matters
A trusted relationship with hospital stakeholders is the cornerstone of a mutually beneficial relationship between a healthcare facility and a third-party planner. Below are some examples of the value that third-party planners can bring by serving as a single point of contact for equipment procurement:
- They coordinate with multiple stakeholders inside and outside the hospital
- They arrange periodic planning meetings to review equipment procurement and prioritize needs
- They maintain regular contact with equipment vendors and servicing companies
2) Schedule equipment demos
Medical equipment is both costly and complicated to operate. Procuring equipment without the opportunity to test its properties can result in expensive purchases that fail to meet the needs of clinical staff. Arranging equipment demos is one of the best ways that third-party planners can ensure that hospitals procure equipment that meets the needs of medical staff. Equipment facilitators lay the foundation for a seamless equipment demonstration by negotiating demo terms with vendors and making sure that the appropriate members of clinical teams are on hand for relevant equipment demos.
3) Stagger equipment deliveries to coincide with facility completion
Scheduling equipment deliveries to occur at just the right moment is a challenging – especially for individuals tasked with opening or renovating a hospital. Third-party equipment planners are accustomed to working with a variety of different equipment vendors and possess the expertise required to properly stagger equipment purchases and delivery. Here are some reasons why the services of a third-party planner are warranted:
- Equipment planners know that some products such as lights and med-gas should be ordered before other items because installation can be time-consuming
- To maximize the value of equipment warranties, professional planners avoid ordering capital equipment and supplies too far in advance
- Professional planners stay abreast of construction progress and make sure equipment arrives after construction is completed and installation can safely occur
4) Evaluate equipment for proper agency approvals
The medical equipment industry is changing by the day. While the United States is still the world’s leader in equipment manufacturing, equipment manufactured by companies in China, India, and Brazil is beginning to infiltrate the United States. Unfortunately, not all of these products are FDA-approved. Many foreign-made products are not subject to the same evaluation criteria as American-made products. Third-party planners can sniff out products that lack the proper agency approvals and refrain from purchasing them.
5) Check provider references
Not all equipment providers are created equal. With over 6,500 medical equipment companies in the United States, it is vital to separate the best providers from those who merely have attractive websites. Requesting and checking provider references is one of the best ways to confirm a provider’s legitimacy, scalability, and reputation. Third-party equipment planners have the time and resources to dedicate to this important task.
6) Proactively monitor the medical equipment market for low-cost items
The medical equipment industry is ripe with cost-savings opportunities. However, these opportunities are not always easy to uncover unless you are actively monitoring the market on a daily basis. Due to the nature of their work, equipment facilitators are often on a first-name basis with equipment vendors, owners of auction companies, and manufacturers. They are often among the first to hear about bulk purchasing opportunities, liquidations, and hospital closures that open the door to major cost savings on needed items.
7) Handle removal of outdated equipment
A professional equipment planner can help prevent your hospital storage department from turning into a medical equipment museum. Third-party planners can ensure that broken or malfunctioning equipment is beyond repair and then arrange the proper removal of any unwanted items. Because some medical equipment will be too large to dispose of easily, an equipment planner can make arrangements for one of the following to occur:
- Donation of broken or unwanted items to companies that specialize in the sale of equipment parts
- Resale of the equipment to vendors that specialize in equipment repair and servicing
- The safe and proper disposal of unwanted equipment
8) Ensure equipment is properly serviced
Third party planners know that establishing an equipment servicing schedule is a vital part of the procurement process. As they procure equipment, professional planners coordinate with service providers to ensure that a preventive maintenance schedule is created and equipment is regularly inspected and maintained. Completion of this important task is critical for compliance with regulatory agencies and success with external audits.
9) Find cost-effective equipment alternatives
Third-party equipment planners often have valuable industry connections that hospital procurement staff lack. They are able to think outside the box to generate cost-saving ideas and non-traditional options. For instance, they can introduce hospitals to the following equipment sources:
- Companies that specialize in professionally refurbished medical equipment
- Regional medical equipment auctions
- Equipment opportunities spurred by local hospital closings
10) Allow hospital staff to focus on new business and maximizing profits
By facilitating all procurement-related activities, third-party equipment planners allow hospital decision makers and other staff to devote their energies to key priorities such as marketing, staff recruitment, quality improvement programs, and compliance initiatives. The end results are increased profits, greater employee retention, and higher levels of patient satisfaction.
The Bottom Line
Third-party equipment planners have the expertise and resources to ensure that medical equipment procurement is completed in a seamless, cost-effective manner. By establishing and maintaining strong working relationships with key hospital stakeholders, third-party planners can approach procurement using a balanced mix of objectivity and insider knowledge. Additionally, they have connections and industry experience that can help hospitals maximize a thin budget and capitalize on outdated equipment. By enlisting the support of a third-party planner to handle all equipment procurement, your hospital staff can focus on becoming a leading healthcare provider in your area.