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  • Equipment Corner: Why Caring for Your Equipment is a Winning Investment Strategy (Part 2 of 2)

    The care and maintenance of your equipment cannot be overstated. By diligently keeping up your equipment, you can not only maintain the value of the equipment but also save the hard-earned dollars invested by your practice.

    As an asset appraiser, I have appraised over 200 practices and ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) for nearly 30 years. Believe me, I have seen it all — from a practice with 20-year old equipment in mint condition to a practice with equipment covered in so much dust and grime that I had to wipe my finger over the serial number in order to read it.

    Every time I work in a practice, I offer my clients following advice:

    Tip 1: Treat your equipment like your livelihood depends on it, because it does.  

    The practice I mentioned above with the 20-year old equipment in mint condition has an asset that has held its value well in addition to functioning flawlessly. The practice has 12 exam lanes and four workup or testing rooms. Attention to equipment maintenance has paid off for this practice by significantly reducing the need for costly replacement or repairs. As I mentioned in my previous article, if you need to update your equipment, you can more easily sell your used equipment if it is well-maintained to a company that will refurbish and recertify it.

    Tip 2: Set up a monthly cleaning by an equipment repair company.

    The practice above has a system that I highly recommend: They contract an equipment repair company to come in each month to clean a portion of the practice’s equipment. Yes, this adds a cost to the bottom line each month, but the equipment is never out of service and maintains its value to the practice in dollars and service.

    Here's how the maintenance system works. The equipment repair company works on two exam lanes and one workup room. The technician thoroughly dismantles, cleans and realigns each piece of equipment to manufacturer’s specifications. By utilizing this program, each lane and testing room has its equipment cleaned and refurbished twice a year, and each day the practice’s techs cover each item thoroughly to keep out the dust floating in the air.

    Tip 3: Protect equipment from dust and daily damage.

    If your covers are torn or have holes in them, order new ones and utilize them every day. If something is not in use for that day, keep it covered and uncover only if it unexpectedly needs to be used.

    I recommend equipment covers with the elastic band that closes the opening snug around the equipment. Exam chairs are used by patients several times a day and wear out over a period of time. If the vinyl padded seats, backs or arm rests of your chairs are torn or work down to the metal, call in a local upholsterer and have them recover in a synthetic leather. This material is reasonably priced and will last much longer than vinyl or leather.

    These suggestions also pertain to the rest of the equipment in the practice or ASC. Computers are notorious as dust collectors, and they should be covered each afternoon. Dust that collects in the exhaust fan builds up and retains heat in the processors and efficiency fades. Dust and dirt are the enemy of anything mechanical or electrical.

    In closing, taking the time to do these small steps of adding a routine equipment maintenance to your practice will protect your assets, reduce the likelihood of equipment breakdowns and give you greater flexibility should you decide to refurbish and recertify your equipment.

    Don't miss the first article of this two-part series: Equipment Corner: 5 Tips to Effectively Manage Your Practice Equipment Assets

    About the Author

    Jim Hamlett recently retired as the owner of Asset Appraisal Service. Until his retirement, he had been involved in the medical equipment and supply field in sales and management since 1981, conducting asset appraisals of practices and ASCs for 28 years.