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Duty of Care: Why Medical Equipment Suppliers Will Need To Embrace Servitization

By Mark Homer, senior vice president corporate development and head of global customer transformation, ServiceMax.

Mark Homer

Anyone who supplies and maintains equipment to the healthcare industry faces some challenging months ahead. Despite reports from Deloitte that budgets will increase on average by five percent over the next three years, a catalogue of impacting factors is likely to mean there will be little change left in the pot.

Understandably, the healthcare industry is once again looking at doing more for less. Expanding and aging populations, increasing numbers of people with chronic, long-term conditions, staff and specialist skills shortages and costly infrastructure are all having an impact. Brace yourself as this will only continue and become more acute. This is why digital transformation is so important and why suppliers need to re-think how they deliver and maintain equipment.

According to Deloitte’s 2020 Global Healthcare Outlook, digital technologies are reshaping healthcare for the future. One of the main catalysts driving this is the need for predictive and preventive care, as well as cheaper, precise, and less invasive treatments and therapies. Patients are also demanding it. People want greater personalization of care – and healthcare providers need to confidently deliver these services without compromise.

So, what does this mean for medical equipment suppliers? Essentially, to help healthcare organizations ride the waves of digital change and ensure they are delivering quality services, there needs to be a change in service culture. It will no longer be sufficient or efficient to focus on specific products. Healthcare organizations will soon demand (and suppliers should deliver), outcome-based contracts, which will require a range of products to deliver those outcomes.

For example, a hospital may want to ensure its imaging department sees every patient within a certain time frame. To achieve that, it will need to know that none of the critical equipment is going to break and therefore reduce its chances of meeting waiting time targets. Suppliers will need to provide the hospital with an outcome-based deal, such as committing that every X-ray machine and MRI scanner will be online as and when they are required or will at least achieve a pre-agreed number of scans.

For medical equipment providers this means two things. First that they will need the right tools to access machines in real time and analyse their condition, and the second they will need to deliver outcome-based services as part of a trusted ecosystem. As an Asset Finance International report, Focusing On Customer Outcomes Through Servitizationsays “collaboration is key to its [servitization’s] success, not competition. A partnership approach with different entities working in an ecosystem will be the most likely model to succeed in many sectors.”

Understanding the condition of machines will of course be critical. By using IoT networks to determine the health of machines in real time, manufacturers can start to use predictive maintenance tools to alert service teams before serious problems occur. Field service management and asset service management tools can combine to monitor equipment through conditions monitoring, an automated service which constantly checks the condition of equipment. This analysis can predict potential failure quickly and alert service teams in real time to any potential problems.

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