Article Date: 3/1/2010

Your Buyer's Checklist
tech time

Your Buyer's Checklist

The “need to know” guide to acquiring diagnostic technology.

SCOT MORRIS, O.D., F.A.A.O.

In 2010, “Tech Time” will focus on diagnostic technology, including refractive instruments (phoropters, auto-refractors, lensometers); anterior segment imaging (topography, tonometry, slit lamps, anterior segment cameras, and UBM's); posterior segment imaging (retinal cameras and OCT/SLO's), visual field tools and diagnostic interfacing technology. But first, you need to determine what you really need, what you can afford and how you can fully utilize these technologies. Purchasing is probably the easy part — we all love cool toys. Profiting is the critical part.

Companies often approach us with offers to “trial” the latest and greatest equipment. Of course, the trial is free, but ultimately the purchase is never so sweet. To help analyze purchases, I developed the following basic “checklist”.

1.) Marketing
a. Will the manufacturer/distributer help me market the new equipment?
b. Can I use this equipment to market my practice to my patients?
c. How will my patients view this new equipment?

2.) Clinical
a. How does the equipment differ from what I already have?
b. Does it provide the imaging and/or results that I really need?
c. Is this equipment versatile (multi-task) or single featured?
d. Does it make my job easier, faster or more convenient?
e. Does it give me useful, reliable and reproducible information?
f. Does it have excellent specificity and sensitivity?
g. Are the results easy to interpret?
h. Does the equipment come with a training manual, CD or hands-on training? i. Will my staff be able to operate this machine?

3.) Expandability
a. Is this piece of equipment expandable?
b. Can I interface it with other technology I have or do I need special software (i.e. more money)?

4.) Financial
a. What is the real TCO (total cost of ownership)?
b. How do I code or bill for this new instrumentation?
c. How much will I get paid for each use by the average insurance company?
d. How long will it take me to pay off my investment?

Each of your needs will be different, so only you can decide on what piece of equipment best suits the needs of your practice.

Regardless of which of these tools you choose to use in your office, the key is that you use your new equipment to give you more information and, ultimately, make your job easier. Often this means you must market the equipment. Most companies have pre-prepared marketing materials that you can utilize to sell your staff and patients on the advantages of your “new” technology. Next, always inquire about tools to properly train both you and your staff on the uses and functionality of the equipment. Lastly, find out how to correctly bill for the technology from the manufacturer or take one of the courses on new technology at the next CE meeting that you attend. In summary, learn how to use it, how to market it, and how to bill for it and then get ready to make your life a little easier.

Visit us next month as we look at refractive technology. OM


DR. MORRIS IS THE DIRECTOR OF EYE CONSULTANTS OF COLORADO, LLC, AND MORRIS EDUCATION & CONSULTING ASSOCIATES. E-MAIL HIM AT SMORRIS@EYECONSULTANTSOFCO.COM.

Optometric Management, Issue: March 2010