In today’s world, new systems are in place to allow consumers to obtain products and necessities quicker and easier, and with that individuals are beginning to calculate their time as an opportunity cost. Consumers are relying on the fact that they can get just about anything sent to them in a matter of days and are not content with waiting much longer than that. They also have the satisfaction of “googling” anything on the Internet at anytime or place. The debate between convenience and intellectual property rights has consumers, especially hospitals and clinics, concerned that they will be stuck with slow service, high costs and more downtime than they can afford if manufacturers continue with their repair monopolies. The “Right to Repair” movement would eliminate repair monopolies and allow for independent and in-house service technicians access to the information and parts needed in order to repair medical devices in a timely and cost-effective manner.
The cost of medical equipment used within our health care system is already exorbitant, but when you add on overpriced equipment repair, the hospitals and clinics must make up the inflated costs by charging patients more. Hospitals generally account for more than $1 trillion in American health care costs per year, which is only about one third of our total heath care spending and more than twice what other wealthy countries pay. Finding ways for hospitals to cut costs is essential, especially if those methods won’t negatively impact the quality of care being received.
Some medical equipment manufacturers make finding a service provider almost impossible because they refuse to give the independent service technician the correct calibration or parts needed without the hospital going directly through the manufacturer. For instance, a new MRI machine can cost anywhere from $150,000 – $3 million with a service contract ranging somewhere between 10 and 15 percent of the original cost of the product. That means if you have a $1 million MRI machine, you would be paying $100,000 – $150,000 in annual service charges. An independent biomedical solutions provider might charge the hospital around 5 – 8 percent for an equal annual contract. The cost would be even lower for hospitals that have their own in-house repair services, as long as their technicians have the proper training on the medical devices needing maintenance. Having repair options could potentially mean $100,000 per year savings on just one machine. A study submitted to the FDA by the ECRI Institute concluded “Based on the results of ECRI Institute’s detailed database searches spanning the past 10 years, and on its monitoring of medical device problems and hazards for more than 40 years, we do not believe that a safety problem exists with the servicing, maintenance, and repair of medical devices by either third-party organizations or OEMs.” In essence, faulty repair is incredibly rare and doesn’t justify tens of billions of dollars in extra health care spending.
The Right to Repair is one of the most important challenges facing the biomedical equipment industry. Limited options for repair lead to longer repair timelines, causing patient backups and other logistical problems, all of which add to the cost. The Right to Repair would allow hospitals and clinics to hire certified biomedical service companies to perform maintenance and repairs on medical devices while also having access to the manufacturer’s specs, tools, and parts. With this reform, the medical device community is seeking to lower medical equipment maintenance and repair costs, extend device life cycles and ultimately improve patient care due to reduced downtime.
ERD Medical Device Services is dedicated to bringing you high quality, cost-effective, factory trained technicians to service all your medical device needs. If the car industry can effectively share their manufacturer proprietary information for repairs and maintenance, then we believe the same is true in our industry, and we will continue pursuing the right to repair!