You had feedback from your team about this underperforming washer disinfector and you are looking into different models to replace it? You probably know at this stage; medical equipment is an investment for any care facility. Whether you are looking at replacing an autoclave or installing a new ultrasound machine, finding the right model and supplier for your capital equipment is only half of the battle. You want your equipment to last for many years and support all your staff and patients’ needs. In this context, a service contract for your equipment gives assurance to maintaining its performance and will give you peace of mind that you have the right support.
But how to navigate all the different types of contracts? In this article we’ll go over what equipment needs a service contract, what can be included in the contract and top tips when signing or renewing your contract.
What is an equipment service contract?
It can also be called Maintenance & Support Services Agreement and consists of a contract signed with an independent service provider to agree on preventive maintenance, service and/or repair of medical equipment. It includes an agreed price over a set period of time.
Preventive maintenance are scheduled visits where an engineer will work on your equipment to expand its overall lifetime and prevent breakdown.
If something goes wrong with your medical equipment, you can ring a dedicated support line and arrange a repair.
What kind of healthcare equipment needs a service contract?
The type of equipment that needs a service contract depends on multiple factors, such as initial investment, expected lifetime, patient and end-user safety & care, and the level of risk.
These factors will also define the type and level of service you need to have included in the contract.
Below are examples of healthcare decontamination equipment needing service contracts:
- Decontamination equipment such as autoclaves, sterilisers and washers
- Water treatment systems for sterile services and endoscopy
- Critical medical devices such as electro-cardiographs and anaesthetic machine
What’s included in the service contract?
What’s included in a service contract goes beyond after-sales services. It can include as high as 24-7 support and any spare parts.
We have captured below a list of options available in service contracts:
As a minimum, you want to include one service per year. However some equipment – and again depending on the usage – can require up to 4 service visits per year. These scheduled services provide preventative maintenance, essential for identifying any potential problems and reducing the chance of failure.
Calibrations and validation
In line with regulations, healthcare equipment needs to be installed, calibrated, and validated by qualified engineers while following all relevant manufacturer guidelines. Not all service suppliers will include this on the contract but it is worth looking into. It will allow for streamlined data management on your equipment as well as unlocking trend recognition.
At Manepa, our engineers are trained by an independent body accredited by City & Guild specialist training recognition. We also have a customised validation management software designed to ensure full process control, record keeping and tracking for all your calibration and validation needs.
To ensure proper use of the machine you can include initial machine training followed by a dedicated programme to keep the team and newcomers fully proficient in using the equipment.
This is the delivery of unplanned call-outs for breakdowns and repair work. Even with regular maintenance, problems may still occur with your healthcare equipment. You want to make sure that there is support available in case you need it.
For this, you need to have a clear definition of the level of service (is it 24/7?) and any “out of hours” service specifications. You may require a cost-per-hour definition in the contract too.
For crucial equipment, some service providers can include the loan of a spare unit if a major breakdown occurs. You should ask about this option and check the timeframe for how quick the new unit can be available, installed and ready to be used.
For certain equipment, there are known consumables that can be covered in the contract. It allows for better visibility and planning of costs for your capital equipment.
You can include replacement parts in the contract pricing. Be aware that the shipping cost of these parts may not be included, therefore it would be advised to ask for a rate table.
Top tips when renewing or subscribing to a service contract for your healthcare equipment.
Not every level of service is equal
While you may be guaranteed support for breakdown with dedicated response times, you want to know if someone will get out to you within 4 days or 24h. You also want to know if they locally store spare parts or if you may have additional downtime due to a slow supply chain.
At Manepa we have 11+ engineers in the field located all over Ireland and we store the most commonly used spare parts in our headquarters in Dublin.
Make sure legal rights and recovery options are included
These are legal information related to any contract with a service provider. It displays your rights regarding different scenarios including terminations and renewal conditions.
There is no one-size-fit-all healthcare equipment service contract, that’s why you need to choose a service contract provider that is flexible in their approach to meeting your requirements. In addition, do you have the flexibility to amend the contract in the middle of the terms if your requirements change?
At Manepa we create bespoke maintenance programmes depending on the machine usage. We’ll run the numbers for you and define the best solution with the flexibility to adjust.
Look for professionalism in service reports and data management
The least you can expect is legibility and accuracy in service reports. But to go further, proper data recording and analysis will allow for conjoint work to identify trends. For example, it will help identify the need for specific user training when the same problem occurred at an atypical frequency.
Not all service contracts are the same and they can be adapted to your machine types, usage, finance and operational needs. You should discuss all options for your contract and ensure you get the right level of support with appropriately trained engineers.
Finally, we all know the saying prevention is better than cure, well it is very much applicable to critical healthcare equipment. A service contract protects your capital investment, ensures continuity of care, increases end-user satisfaction and ultimately helps you achieve clinical and operational excellence.
At Manepa we have over 50 years of experience in maintaining decontamination equipment and our engineering team has all the qualifications and certifications required. We go even further by offering financial packages and breakdown cover options on your equipment in our Managed Equipment Service Contract options.