The truth of the modern world of medical imaging is: If you did not document it, it did not happen!  The requirements for documentation are ever expanding. Preventive maintenance (PM), Field Change Orders, Recalls, and corrective maintenance have to be documented.  The various licensing bodies, accreditation requirements, and even some insurance may require access to the service information of any given piece of equipment.  By resisting documentation, a shop or an Independent Service Organization (ISO) may be missing out on a very powerful tool.

Most documentation is now kept on a relational database of one type or another.  These are often integrated with purchasing and labor systems to help calculate actual cost of equipment ownership.  This allows for tracking of any number of data points that can give helpful information to the equipment owner, capital fund manager, and service personnel.  But that is only if it is kept accurate.

Let’s face it, you don’t want to do “paperwork.”  The average Field Service Engineer (FSE) would like to just fix equipment, and go home at the end of the day.  “All that documentation is a waste of time…” and “I am too busy to do paperwork every time I replace a fuse.”  These are commonly heard comments in any shop.

First the term “paperwork” needs to go.  What is being done now is “digital documentation.”  However, the term “documentation” will serve for most conversations.  The fact that it is digital provides an opportunity.  Documentation can be used as a very powerful tool.  Consider all of the information that can be made available. With accurate data, there are many hospitals that will be able to take equipment to an Alternative Equipment Management (AEM) program.

But what can a FSE or manager gain from digital documentation?  That depends on what you put into the documentation.  If phrases such as, “repaired unit” or “replaced broken parts” are the extent of the documentation, there is not much.  However, if the actual data is recorded in the service report of a broken item, such as voltages, error codes, and detailed repair notes it becomes a tool.  The documentation can be not only a record for what has happened, but a road map for service when the same error occurs again.  If serial numbers of parts are entered in the documentation, as refurbished parts become more and more common, a specific recycled part can be marked as a lemon.  Average cost of yearly maintenance can be used for budgeting.  Tracking core exchanges becomes easier if PO, tracking numbers, and costs are listed.  In short, the more you put into it the more you get out of it.

One of the big advantages of accurate and thorough documentation is a justification for the FSE position that is held.  The average FSE can show a return on investment of ten to twenty times the salary and benefits they are paid.  With everyone looking to cut costs, this reason alone should be enough to convince everyone that documentation is worth the time investment.


John has twenty years experience in imaging service including general radiation, mammography, CT, and Nuclear Medicine. He has worked for third party service companies, manufacturers sales companies, and in house imaging teams. Currently John is managing imaging service for two hospitals and six out patient centers for Kettering Health Network. John holds a B.S. in Health and Human Services Management from Wilberforce University.