Article Date: 11/1/2010

Develop Your List for Equipment
tech time

Develop Your List for Equipment

Before you make your next purchase, you need questions answered.

Scot Morris, O.D., F.A.A.O.

Like many of you, I am often approached by ophthalmic companies with the offer to "trial" their latest and greatest equipment. After my sales representative provides an informative demonstration, I always find myself wanting this new piece of equipment.

Then I ask my self: "Do I really need this piece of equipment?" I analyze the strengths and weaknesses of each piece of equipment and how it will impact my office. What does any individual piece of equipment truly tell me? To assist in making my decision, I've developed a basic "checklist" to help me analyze the value of any piece of equipment that I investigate.

The list

I developed this list as I evaluated which of the new pieces of equipment would best suit our office. Your needs will differ and ultimately, you need to decide on what piece of equipment best meets your needs and the needs of your practice. To make a good business decision, you must ask a few questions.

Here is my list of questions:

1. Marketing

a. How can I market the equipment to promote my practice?
b. Will the vendor help me market the equipment?
c. How will my patients view this new equipment?

2.) In the clinic

a. How does this piece of equipment differ from equipment I already operate?
b. Does it provide the information that I really need to make clinical decisions?
c. Will it make my job easier, faster or more convenient?
d. Will it provide me with useful, reliable and reproducible information?
e. Will it make my staff, customers and I happy?
f. Are the results of the test(s) easy to interpret?
g. Will it reduce inefficiency and/or human error within my practice?
h. Does the vendor offer a training manual, an instructional CD or hands-on training?
i. Will my staff be able to operate this machine independently or with minimal supervision?

3.) Key technical questions

a. Is this piece of equipment expandable or upgradeable?
b. Can I link it with other machines or electronic medical records either now or in the future?
c. Will it integrate with other technology already in place?
d. How will it communicate with my other technologies?
e. To operate it effectively, will I need to buy other technology or upgrade my operating systems?
f. Is this equipment versatile (multi-tasking) or single featured?

4.) Financial

a. Is this piece of equipment affordable relative to my practice budget?
b. How will this technology pay for itself or become profitable?
c. What are the tax implications of the purchase or lease?
d. How do I code or bill for this new instrumentation?
e. What will it cost me if I don't use this device?
f. What is the purchase price?
g. How does it compare to the TCO? (Total Cost of Ownership)
h. What are the yearly expenses associated with the machine?
i. What are the hidden costs — that is, those costs that aren't included in the acquisition price?

Next month, we'll discuss e-mail marketing. Be educated, be aware, and thrive in the optometric world of technology. OM


Optometric Management, Issue: November 2010