By James Markland
Growing customer requests and increased usage has prompted Summit Imaging of Woodinville, Wash., to expand its services to support portable ultrasound systems along with static machines. Summit Imaging is now one of the first third-party ultrasound repair companies to offer support for portable units.
Recently, portable systems have become increasingly popular because their small size enables healthcare providers to use them anywhere. They’re easy to move around so physicians can scan patients in areas where space is limited or where procedures must be done onsite rather than in an exam room. Portable machines are also approximately one third of the cost of static machines. Up until now, however, clinicians had to rely on the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) for maintenance repairs, which could result in costly downtime. Summit Imaging’s new service line fulfills an unmet need amongst clinicians for highly efficient, end-to-end support for their portable machines.
Summit Imaging CEO and founder Larry Nguyen confirmed the pressing need for portable system service. “We received requests from our customers for portable repair services, and since our top priority is making sure all of our customers’ needs are met, we wanted to implement this new service line as soon as we could,” he said. “We have a 93 percent customer retention rate and in order to maintain that we need to make sure our customers are receiving the support they need.”
Nguyen also pointed to industry trends. “We also noticed that portable ultrasounds are gaining traction in the market and are becoming a very popular alternative to static machines. Also, they are at a point in their life cycle where their electronics are beginning to fail. As portable machines become more common, there will be an increased demand for technical support,” he said.
Summit offers support for portable machines down to component level repair for both the system itself and compatible probes. This eliminates the alternative option for maintenance and support under an OEM service contract, which according to Nguyen, “is like an insurance policy for future repair work.”
The other option is to assume full risk, which means that if a part malfunctions medical facilities have to purchase replacement parts at OEM prices and pay for the repair work themselves, which can get expensive. For example, the cost of replacing the motherboard is the same for static and portable machines, about $15,000. So for a customer who initially paid $50,000 for their portable unit it’s a huge expense. Nguyen points out that “Summit offers a great support alternative that can significantly reduce downtime and cost relative to current service contracts and full risk approaches.”
Nguyen emphasizes Summit’s awareness of the time-sensitive nature of their clients’ industry. “We strive to deliver the highest quality support and fastest response times,” he said. “And we think there are several supporting factors that set us apart from our competitors. For example, Summit completes repairs faster than anyone while our competitors can take many weeks for the same repair. We can ship parts overnight anywhere in the US, so our customers can be up and running as soon as the next day. We offer the longest warranty in the industry. Our six-month warranty for parts and services is three times longer than the industry standard. Also, Summit offers free 24/7 technical support and can diagnose most problems over the phone in less than nine minutes.”
According to Nguyen, Summit offers a highly trained team of technicians with comprehensive knowledge of high-end systems across many different brands, and an innovative and efficient end-to-end customer service process that minimizes costly downtime and aims to exceed the expectations of biomedical engineers and hospital administrators. In addition to customer support and free diagnostic analysis, Summit Imaging provides replacement parts and transducers from manufacturers such as GE, Philips and Siemens. This helps serve Summit Imaging’s larger goal to set a new industry standard wherein total cost of support is low and repairs are fast and reliable.