Buying Medical Equipment for your practice: Caution Advised !
If you own or run a medical practice, or plan to do so, one of the most frequent decision you will have to make is whether or not to buy or lease a medical equipment. As the cost of technology is going down, more and more medical equipment is becoming affordable for medical practices to acquire. As technology advances, older models are becoming available in the used medical equipment market for fraction of the price.
Why should a medical practice acquire medical equipment: Reasons can be:
1) Out of necessity: If you are an ophthalmologist, you need some of the equipment to practice your trade.
2) Service to patients: Patients prefer to go to their Doctors office for procedures rather than to a hospital.
3) Tax Breaks: Your accountant can tell you how to depreciate the price of the medical equipment to get some relief from Uncle Sam.
5) Survival: In the era of reducing insurance reimbursement rates, an additional income from the procedure may become an important source of revenue.
But beware of the medical equipment salesmen. Many of them are good but many of them are not. Their job is to sell the equipment. They may promise to stick by you after the sale but admit it, how many times have you seen a any sales guy checking on you after a sale. Also the only way they can convince a physician to buy a medical equipment is to talk about the profitability of the tests. So ultimately it is the duty of the physician purchasing the medical equipment to decide whether or not it is a good buy.
How do you determine if an equipment is a good buy or not ? How do you know if the medical equipment salesman is telling you the truth about the reimbursement rates. The answer is you cannot guarantee the reimbursement rate by insurance companies for a particular test. The only way to do it will be to submit a claim to the insurance company. You can submit a claim only after you buy the equipment and do the procedure. Even if you submit the claim, whether it gets paid or not will take atleast one to three months. Thanks to the processing times of various insurance companies.
So here is a list of questions you should ask before purchasing any medical equipment:
1) Do I trust this medical equipment salesperson? The answer should be No most of the time. The mistrust will motivate you to do more research on your own.
2) Do my patients need this medical equipment? If yes, then how often ?
3) Do medical insurance companies traditionally reimburse for the procedure or will my patients end up footing the bill ?
4) Does the amount reimbursed by the insurance companies will recover my investment in a reasonable period of time ?
5) What is the future outlook of reimbursement on these procedure by third party payors. Are they planning to decrease it or increase it (LOL).
6) Is Medicare or Medicaid planning to add certification requirement for that medical equipment. If so then you need to factor in the added cost of training and paying someone to be a medical director.
7) What is the difference in pricing between a new and the used medical equipment ?
8) What are other companies selling the same or similar model for ?
9) Do I have a place in the medical practice to use it ?
10) Will my patients benefit from having the test here ?
11) Will the quality of reports generated by the medical equipment be sufficient enough that I can give a good service to my patients ?
You can find a list of Medical Vendors from the Medical Vendors Directory VendorMD.com for your research. Answer the above questions you do not get stuck with a medical equipment sitting in your office and laughing at you !