The “burn of summer” has begun to take hold in many parts of this great country. It is this segment in the year when most imaging administrators are either beginning to tune-in or have found the harmony of their annual capital budget planning cycle. Depending on an organization’s twelve-month fiscal year cycle, which can vary at different segments of the modern-day calendar year, this crucial planning milestone is one that has varying practices and methods. There is a high-decile norm across the country which has been that most medical imaging equipment replacement is not long-range planned well into the future but can be more of a “crisis by crisis” approach or in some cases a political physician chess game. During my 32 years of HTM imaging experience, I have seen hundreds of thousands, and in a few cases over one million dollars, spent on “emotional purchases” of medical imaging equipment in the “name of patient care” propped up by unrealistic business plans. In these unfortunate situations, many of those medical imaging equipment purchases turned out to be under-utilized assets with no supporting or sustainable business plan. In some cases, this situation is a result of a clinical program design that fizzled out quickly due to a clinical leader champion that may have exited the organization thus throwing the equipment into a “hibernating state” to “depreciate quietly off the books.” Talk about health care dollars wasted – now you can’t blame the Affordable Care Act or politicians on this one!

In my travels around the country, I have seen many clinical imaging department leaders in collaboration with their internal clinical engineering teams or neutral vendor resource partners become engaged in proactive medical imaging equipment planning with many of those collaborations having established pretty good medical imaging equipment replacement forecasting tools. The visionary ability of engaging medical imaging equipment planning and replacement resources has never been more crucial to health care organizations. The new-era financial challenges related to patient billing reimbursement reductions and slowed cash flow receivables faced by all health care organizations have put a downward strain on capital dollars allotted each year to fund the purchase of medical imaging equipment and stay current with advancing technology.

As we part from this month’s blog – here are a couple of take-away’s to ponder. What is your clinical imaging equipment replacement plan for the next year and the next five years ahead? How can your team be a contributing resource to your organization’s imaging equipment planning strategy? As it is said, “Knowledge is power” – the many resources which can enable this dynamic and visionary imaging equipment planning tool reside in some very familiar places. Looking to the outside through a neutral advisory source is number one and in turn can provide the key which will unlock all the doors of understanding your organization’s short- and long-term medical imaging equipment planning needs. See the vision – be the visionary!

 

Alan has been in the Clinical Engineering industry for 29+ years having served directly in the academic, governmental and community hospital settings. Alan’s career has spanned from imaging/ biomedical engineer to Director of Clinical Engineering. Alan currently serves today at the Vice President and Senior Advisor level with a leading medical equipment consultative and asset management firm.