Imaging Equipment Service: Cost vs. Quality

As important as it is to find service that works for your budget, it is equally important to make sure your service coverage includes features that offer you reliable protection from equipment issues.

When you approach the service market, make sure any contracts you're comparing are really "apples to apples". Maybe a lower service price is the smoking deal it appears to be. But maybe the price has been reduced because the coverage has too. With that in mind, the following are features to look for as you shop service. We can't speak to how other vendors handle these, but to give you an example, we'll share how Block Imaging does them to give you some added context.

Uptime Guarantee

Having an uptime guarantee is one of the most valuable contract features you can have. This is a provider's commitment to have your system running a specific percentage of your coverage time. Generally, there is language in the contract about how the provider will compensate you if they do not meet their uptime guarantee.

Right now many providers (several major OEMs among them) offer around 95% uptime. Block Imaging offers a 98% uptime guarantee. In school there's no difference in grades between scoring 95% and 98%. Both are an "A". But when it comes to your imaging equipment, 3% is a very big difference. Over the course of a year, that's 11 days! If you run a high-volume facility, you could miss out on thousands of dollars in scans over what seems like a small percentage.

Response Time

A big part of your uptime is determined by how well a company can respond to a down system. While OEMs generally do a good job of covering the nation with modality-specific trained engineers, that doesn’t mean an ISO won’t also have a trained engineer right in your backyard.

The process of opening a service call can be much easier when working with an ISO as well. Alongside our team of in-house engineers, Block Imaging has a nationwide network of approved service engineers to support you across all modalities and manufacturers. Using this network, Block Imaging seeks to maintain an onsite response time that fits your specific needs.

Technical Expertise

This is probably the most crucial component in choosing a service provider. Having a high degree of confidence in your primary service engineer’s technical expertise not only gives you peace of mind, but empowers the engineer to perform their job without feeling like their capabilities are in question.

In terms of the cost vs. quality question, it's worth noting that many independent engineers have worked for an OEM prior to starting their own businesses or joining an ISO team. I encourage anyone shopping for service to ask plenty of questions about technical background when vetting a service provider. If your options come down to paying a little more to work with a significantly more experienced engineer: don't skimp!   

A good place to start the vetting process is make sure whoever you work with is ISO Certified (not just ISO Compliant).

Parts Inventory

When your system goes down and a part is needed, the last thing you need is a delay in locating the replacement. While all OEMs maintain a stock of parts here in the US, there is a chance of a part being on backorder. This can be especially tricky if the manufacturing plant is not based in the US. In this situation, an order can require a significant lead time.

Fortunately, many ISOs also keep a parts inventory. While this does put another service option into play, it is important to make sure they have the parts specific to your system (e.g. GE Innova 4100 vs. “We have GE Innova parts”) ready to ship as soon as the engineer makes the request. We currently have over 35,000 parts on the shelf and are adding to that inventory every day.

Contract Flexibility and Exceptions

You know better than anyone your organization's priorities and needs when it comes to the level of service you require. Having the ability to opt in or out of contract features like glassware, 24/7 service, or coil coverage helps maintain cost-effective contract pricing. This more "à la carte" approach is not always an option with many providers, both OEM and ISO.  

Also, don't forget to review your cancellation terms. We've seen customers get locked into multi-year service agreements that they end up being unhappy with, but are unable to cancel.

Customer Care

At signing, customer care is frequently overlooked because, after all, it’s more about how well your service provider can work on the equipment, right? If calling into a pre-recorded service dispatch, poor follow-up communication, and no advocacy for the customer don’t bother you, then sure!

One of the most frustrating things, outside of your equipment being broken, is feeling like your issue really isn’t that important to your service provider. Providing an excellent customer experience is at the core of Block Imaging’s service. We understand that to have successful partnership with our customers, we must know their unique needs in order to meet them when it's most important. 

The Takeaway

Ultimately, there will always be facilities that choose the most expensive service option assuming that it will provide the highest quality. There will also always be facilities that choose the cheapest option because they've convinced themselves that quicker turnarounds, greater engineer experience, and more effective communication aren't worth paying more for. Our hope for anyone buying service is that, by asking a lot of questions about the criteria above, they can find a provider that fits their budgetary needs AND strives to offer service that rivals the very best in the business.

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Picture of Chris Kinnas

Chris Kinnas

Chris Kinnas is a National Service Solutions Manager at Block Imaging. His goal is to see imaging facilities covered by the very best service for maximum equipment uptime. Outside of the office, he is a husband, a father of 4, and an avid Chicago sports fan.