EKG Machine Buying Tips
Tips for physicians on buying an EKG Machine - what do college kids know that physicians don’t?
Physicians, have you ever wondered why and how you buy, and have bought, most of the equipment in your office? In this article we will focus on EKG machines, but you could relate this to any equipment purchases.
A typical situation in a doctor’s office happens like this: The existing EKG machine in the office is on its last legs. You had been thinking of replacing it for a while, but you decided to wait until it was broken beyond repair. Lets face it - as long as the machine was reading properly, the reimbursement is the same from an old or a new EKG. Your machine breaks and, coincidentally, the local representative who has been providing you with gauze pads, cotton balls and all your other office supplies brings an EKG machine that he represents into the office for you to consider. You see the machine, your nurses’ love it, you need the machine, and the local rep gives you a price. You barely haggle, if at all, and, voila, there is a brand new machine in your office.
On the other hand, a college student, who has one tenth the education and business experience as you in the same situation, would find the product he or she needs, and then go to the internet to find the best price on that product. You may think you don’t have time to shop the internet for an EKG machine, and you trust your local rep because you have been dealing with him or her for years. Well, the rep’s job is to get you into that type of dependent relationship, one the industry lingo calls, “own the relationship and you will own the business”. Some large distributors are actually tied into certain manufacturers who then give the local rep incentives to promote certain machines, in this case EKG’s. The machine may not even be the best one for your practice.
In addition, most EKG manufacturers have representatives in each area of the country who will train office staff on proper use of the machine, no matter which distributor the EKG machine was purchased from. Further, the manufacturer will handle all warranty and service issues. The result? When buying an EKG machine, you get the same or comparable service from an internet company as you do from a company you find in the classified section of one of your Journals, product magazines that come to your office, or card decks that have a variety of medical equipment in them.
Your local rep should definitely have a role in selling you supplies, although you should periodically check the prices they are offering. If your rep’s service and pricing is not up to par, there are usually 2 or 3 reps in the same area from other companies who are ready, willing and able to help you. But when it comes to buying an EKG machine, the lesson here is that you should explore other purchasing options.
Here are the key features to look for when purchasing an EKG machine:
1. What size print out does the machine put out?
2. Does the machine have a keyboard that gives you the ability to type in patient demographics?
3. Does the machine have a screen where you can see the EKG prior to printing? This is a nice feature because you can actually make sure that the baseline is stable prior to taking the EKG.
4. Does the machine give you the ability to connect to a computer? And if so, is the output based on open architecture which is compatible with most available EMR and EKG Management systems? Some large EKG manufacturers make machines that will only integrate with the expensive EKG management systems that only they provide.
5. There are PC based EKG machines that provide you with all of the above. Further, they have the ability to print on regular copy paper, connect to electronic medical records and integrate other diagnostic features, such as spirometry, holter monitoring, stress testing and vital signs monitoring.