Questions and Answers for Common Ultrasound Devices and Probes
We have been supporting all common ultrasound devices and probes since 1985. In that time, we’ve worked with a lot of medical professionals to help keep their operations working as well as possible given the tight budget constraints placed upon them by a competitive, yet highly regulated, marketplace. In that time, we see a lot of the same questions come up that offices need to consider as they move forward into a brave new world of even greater regulations and complexities.
Today, we’re going to be talking about Ultrasound Probes and Ultrasound Devices, and their support options, as this is a very common subject of interest to practices. Many smaller offices still have devices in use that are as much as 30 years old, and still going strong.
Can my older machine still be used?
You will find that the answer to this is “probably yes”, as long as it turns on and works correctly. In practice, it always comes down to whether the device is able to serve your needs to the extent that you truly need. A common stumbling point for many older devices is network connectivity. This is required for the ability to send and receive data through the DICOM protocol to some centralized server so that medical imaging data can be easily shared with the needed personnel to make a good diagnosis.
Where can I find probes for my ultrasound device?
Whether your device is 1 year old, or 10 years old, customers may find an unfortunate possibility that their ultrasound probes could need to be replaced. Whether it be due to a defect in the device itself, damage to the membrane, or an accidental drop event. The newest ultrasound devices in use will often be under service contract with the manufacturer, but always — original equipment manufacturers, or “OEM”, are often the most expensive and intensive options, and only make sense in the largest and busiest offices where there are bigger budgets and greater urgencies for the services being performed, and where downtime cannot be acceptable. It is important to note, that not all types of damage may be covered by your support contract, so be sure to know what your rights and liabilities are when signing up.
Should I call the OEM manufacturer for support?
As mentioned above, you will need to check on whether your device is under contract, and if so, with whom. Be sure to check with your records department, or business office, as they should have this information on-file. If not, be sure to check the device itself for identifying marks and labels. For older devices, you will often find that the OEM dealers will often try to make the cost of repairs greater than the value of your machine! This does not mean that you have to take that route, however. There are many reputable 3rd party dealers who have extensive access to parts and know-how, and have service depots nearby.
How much should I expect to spend for a service contract?
Service Depots will charge different rates for different devices, and you may also find that there are different ranges of protection that you may buy, just as with an insurance plan. It makes sense, too, because your business depends upon all of your equipment running correctly in order to make sure that profits and costs are correctly managed. The probes for your device may cost from $6000 to $10,000 each, depending on year, make, and modality. This means that on the one hand, you do want protection on those, and yet on the other hand, it is important to make sure that all techs handle them with the utmost care. You will find that most contracts will replace one probe per year, but not two, unless by some far-reaching event they both were to turn out to be defective.