Laboratory Administration & Management of Pathology Practices

Equipment management

Equipment management

Topic Completed: 1 May 2014

Minor changes: 3 March 2021

Copyright: 2002-2021,, Inc.

PubMed Search: laboratory [title] equipment management

Richard E. Horowitz, M.D.
Page views in 2020: 238
Page views in 2021 to date: 227
Cite this page: Horowitz R. Equipment management. website. Accessed December 3rd, 2021.
Definition / general
  • The practice of pathology is uniquely dependent upon complex and sophisticated laboratory equipment, which is continuously upgraded, augmented or rendered obsolete
  • Successful laboratory administration requires knowledge, experience, and judgment in the selection and maintenance of multiple technologies which are integral to our practice
  • Capable equipment management also requires prudent interaction and communication with a variety of non-laboratory experts including biomedical engineers, service personnel, purchasing agents, administrators, contract attorneys, and even vendor representatives
  • Equipment acquisition consists of establishing a need (from the strategic plan), technology assessment, justification, a Request For Information (RFI), a Request For Proposal (RFP), one or more site visits, selection and finally a contract
  • The continuing quality of laboratory operations is, to a large degree, dependent on equipment maintenance
Need and technology assessment
    • Clinical Utility
      • Does the technology make a difference in patient management or outcome?
    • Do the clinicians want or need the new technology?
    • Is the technology accurate, sensitive and reproducible?
    • What are the operating characteristics of the new technology?
    • What are the costs? (to be expanded in subsequent chapter on Budgeting)
Justification for new technology
    • Necessary to meet governmental requirements
    • Necessary for patient or employee safety
    • Replace old equipment in order to continue operation
    • Provide marked improvement in patient care
    • Enhance productivity or reduce costs
    • Improve patient or employee satisfaction
    • Improve operating efficiency
    • Improve quality
    • Bottom Line Essentials
      • Improved patient Care - obtain clinicians' corroboration
      • Increased productivity, decreased cost
      • Cost savings in the system, e.g. decreased length of stay
Request for Information
    • Sent to potential suppliers to:
      • Define your needs
      • See what is available
      • Specify rules and timeframes for the acquisition process and determine who receives an RFP
    • RFI should answer the following:
      • What equipment is available?
      • What are the operating characteristics?
      • How much does it cost?
      • What training is provided?
      • Installation requirements?
      • Service and Maintenance
      • Guarantees and warranty
      • History of Vendor
      • Number and duration of installations
      • References
Site visit
    • Should include a pathologist, laboratory supervisor, administrator and a technologist who is slated to run the equipment
    • Questions for pathologists and particularly for the technologists using the proposed equipment:
      • Problems with delivery or installation?
      • Availability of training?
      • Reliability, unexpected downtime?
      • Verify operating characteristics
      • Vendor service and support?
      • Do the technologists like it?
      • Do the Pathologists like it?
      • Availability of service, parts and reagents?
      • Problems with computer interface?
      • Would you buy this equipment again?
Horowitz's criteria for new equipment acquisition
    • Has it been on the market for at least 5 years?
    • Is it simple with few moving parts?
    • Is there a local parts warehouse and repairman?
    • Are reagents cheap?
    • Is it compatible with existing equipment?
    • Is it inexpensive enough to buy two - so if one breaks down there is an immediately available back-up?
Request for proposal (RFP)
    • A publication of detailed requirements by a prospective buyer in order to receive vendor proposal
      • RFP is also known as request for bids or request to tender
    • Sent to top vendors (from the RFI and site visits) for competitive bidding
    • Key Sections of RFP:
      • Statement of Need
      • What is expected of Vendor
      • Specific performance & operating characteristics
      • Detailed deliverables: hardware, software, training
      • Contractual requirements
      • Payment requirements, incentives, penalties
      • Proposal format
      • Evaluation criteria and award process
      • Schedule
  • Selection of the winning proposal made on the basis of site visits and review of the submitted RFPs
  • Selection made by the site visit team with administration
Contract to purchase or lease
    • Written by Pathologist with Purchasing Agent and Attorney
    • Includes complete specifications:
      • Equipment description
      • Functionality
      • Performance and operating characteristics and standards
      • Incorporates vendor's RFP response
    • Requirements for Installation:
      • Space
      • Utilities
      • Code requirements
      • Computer compatibility
    • Cost to purchase or lease or reagent rental
    • Delivery, liability, replacement
    • Acceptance testing
    • Penalty and lemon clauses
    • Warranty and Maintenance contract
Equipment maintenance
    • Definitions
      • Maintenance is scheduled and preventive
      • Repair is unscheduled after failure
      • First Line Maintenance is performed by machine operator and consists of frequent inspection, cleaning, disinfecting, lubricating, simple replacement, calibrating and adjusting
        • Usually done by Lab Personnel
        • May be done by Biomedical Engineering
        • Must be recorded in a Maintenance Log
      • Second Line Maintenance is performed by manufacturer's field service representative and consists of more complex replacements, alignments and adjustments
      • Third Line Maintenance is major overhaul usually performed in the factory
    • Maintenance Contracts should include:
      • Detail of scope, terms, equipment covered
      • Type of service: routine and emergency
      • Availability of service technicians and parts
      • Availability of loaners
      • Response time: Hierarchy of response
      • Costs: Parts, labor, travel out of pocket
      • Average cost: 10% of purchase price per year
    • Maintenance Records
      • Documentation required by CAP, JCAHO, CLIA
      • Need manuals and records of maintenance of each piece of equipment in the laboratory
      • Generally maintained in each section or sub-section of the laboratory
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