By Jason Theadore, CRA, FAHRA, Chief Executive Officer, Banner Imaging
Pillar #1: Asset Management
Capital equipment, supplies and infrastructure represent a substantial expense to any imaging organization. When I have discussions regarding asset management, many vendors immediately begin discussing the purchase price of the equipment. As I quickly disconnect from that type of dialogue, the word that reengages me is “partnership”. To begin the creation of an actual partnership, we must first agree on the management of our capital assets. For the purpose of this article, asset management will be defined as the effective and efficient balance of financial performance, operating performance and business risk. The conversation must move from what it actually costs to run our organizations to what it should cost to run our organizations. Shifting this conversation will build higher value for you, your team and your patients.
We all know that imaging centers, hospitals and health system economics are an evolution. As organizations evaluate business health, many measure the return on assets. This includes medical imaging equipment. Because economics are evolving, it is important for vendors to meet the care providers where they are in the life cycle. Each organization that you approach is in a different place. This can be simply evaluated by understanding if the right equipment is in the right place, at the right time:
- How many organizations have imaging equipment deployed that is not being used to its maximized configuration?
- Are the assets as efficient as possible?
- Do we know the proper capabilities needed on the clinical equipment to support the health system’s service line evolution and community need?
- Has the vendor provided the needed training for the technical and medical team members to operate the equipment to its highest capability?
We need vendor partners to help us answer these questions. Imaging leaders are no longer able to simply replace assets one for one.
While uptime and servicing of equipment is an important aspect of operating performance, it is not the only measure. Several of our partnership pillars will address operating performance. However, in regard to asset management, there is an ongoing need to manage the asset to its fullest capability during its entire life cycle:
- Are clinical prototypes developed and followed?
- Is there unlimited training available to ensure proper clinical optimization at all times?
- Is there an established real time tracking for profitability?
- Is the vendor willing to go at risk if profitability is not exceeding expectations?
As we evaluate our assets, it is important to be grounded with facts. Understanding the financial, operating and competitive risk is vital for success. Vendor partners have the ability to share marketplace analysis to help imaging leaders evaluate if they have the proper market penetration for their business. Optimizing our business at a modality level to align with the physician enterprise, community need and future demand for services is of vital importance. Analytical support to fully appreciate our competition, markets or services with an unmet need and areas of saturation helps minimize our business risk when acquiring assets:
- What is our market penetration, realization and how can it be optimized?
- Who is the clear market leader and are there new competitors planning to enter the market in the next 3-5 years?
- Who has the best brand recognition in the market?
- What are others doing regarding capital investment?
Understanding the breadth and depth of our clinical capabilities, and others in the market, allows us to realize our clinical competence and appropriately invest in needed assets.
Pillar #1 – At A Glance: Asset Management
Asset management is more than managing the iron or box. The conversation must move from what it actually costs to run our imaging organizations to what it should cost to run our imaging organizations. In order to accomplish this, vendors need to move from a sales mindset to a consultant mindset. As a consultant, meeting your customer where they are is extremely important. One size, or one service, fits all is not helpful to ensure the right equipment is in the right place, at the right time. Managing existing assets to their fullest capability and providing analytical support to fully understand our competition, markets or services with an unmet need and areas of saturation helps minimize our business risks when managing our asset portfolio. If we take this approach together, we will need one another to be successful. Our joint success translates to building higher value for our teams and our patients.
By: Rich Dewit, IIC Chair, Head of US Sales & Marketing, Radiology, Bayer
- Get on the same page – early. Share expectations with the vendor partner so that they are clear on your business goals. Having this open dialogue also improves efficiency by helping the vendor to see the ‘bigger picture’ so that they can propose ideas that are more closely linked to the outcomes you want to achieve and aligned with the larger organization’s goals as well. Ensure early alignment on what ‘value’ means to you, the vendor and other critical decision making Clinical, Financial and Organizational Stakeholders who may come into play in the future.
- Leverage vendor data and insight. A vendor partner likely has statistics on assets that can aid in building or meeting the objectives of an asset management plan. This data could include a variety of categories such as utilization statistics, preventative maintenance recommendations, training or service event records, asset age, or even location. Tools such as a Customer Portal can provide a bridge to this information and other value-rich resources impacting your plan, such as training for staff. Involving your vendor partner in the process may yield helpful insights that influence the path that makes the most sense for your department.
- Conduct regular operational reviews with clear outcomes. After you’ve decided on a plan that best suits your needs, implement a schedule and format to track progress. Start out with monthly reviews that focus on tracking operational metrics and keep close tabs on any actions that need to be taken and use quarterly or semi-annual reviews to ensure continued alignment on clinical, operational, and financial goals. Communication, measurement, and results should be the cornerstone themes of these reviews, regardless of frequency.
Bonus Tip: Trust your gut. If the vendor you’re working with immediately focuses on product, price or ‘pitches’, they may not have the experience or expertise needed to help you achieve your business goals. Critical time, valuable insights and internal support can be lost or damaged when a vendor is lacking the skill or organizational capacity to support your Asset Management goals. Don’t take chances that could impact your department, patients or budget as Asset Management decisions have long standing implications – both positive and otherwise. Take stock of the trust and partnership built (or needed) prior to vendor engagement and trust yourself to take a change in direction when it’s not.
Asset Management, Productivity, Training and Advising, Information Source, Staffing, Competition
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Excellent article, Jason and Rich! Thank you both for providing perspective and insight on asset managment for our AHRA members!