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Purchasing Insights: recent pricing on CT systems

September 09, 2016
From the September 2016 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

By Cris Bennett

When purchasing a new CT system, a facility must focus on not only today’s needs, but also the facility’s needs throughout the next 10 years. We are seeing purchasing departments take this exact approach more frequently. As reimbursement continues to fall, many facilities are making long-term capital equipment purchasing decisions. We see very few system purchases in the 16- to 64-slice count categories due to scalability and dose.

During the past year, we have seen a big increase in interest in the 128-slice-and above market. Many facilities are taking advantage of end-of-quarter and end-of-year savings and the multiple promotions that vendors offer, which offset the cost of the overall system. Knowledge of the market and negotiation skills are the key to receiving the best discount. A facility should not be afraid to let the vendor know it’s looking into other vendors, as this can lead to deeper discounting. A facility also should make sure the vendor identifies the price for the trade-in. With this information, it is easier to understand the true purchase price of the system. We have seen many facilities that were known only to buy from one vendor leave those relationships for better prices or better systems.

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We have seen many CT advancements during the past couple of years. These include metal artifact reduction, advanced cardiac and vessel packages, multiple energy and increased rotation speeds. These all are optional, but they are worth considering. If a facility is purchasing capital equipment, the facility also will need service for that system. When looking at service contracts, a facility should make sure that its tube limitations are within range of not only the patient volume it currently has, but also the volume it expects in the future.

This will reduce the likelihood of costly overage fees. The facility also needs to make sure all of the equipment is covered, not only the tube. For example, ECG cables need coverage, as well. Another consideration when looking to purchase a CT system is FDA recalls. Facilities should do their due diligence and read and understand each recall. Some CT systems have no recalls, and others have up to five recalls. We have important recommendations for a facility purchasing a CT system with recalls. The facility should get a written statement of the status and resolution actions the vendor has taken. It should use recalls as leverage in negotiations. We recommend that the facility check out the ratings of the system, and it should make sure the vendor has the proper contact point for further recalls. Finally, the facility should always negotiate uptime guarantees.

About the author: Cris Bennett is a clinical analyst for MD Buyline.

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