Operating-room

The Complex Nature of Medical Equipment Procurement

4/07/15

Given the speed and ease for knowledge-sharing, we are all at a great advantage. I so appreciate all of you, my peers in the industry, who teach me something new, often daily. Equally, I feel compelled to share if I can provide value to the conversation…

I believe there are fundamental misconceptions among some in the Healthcare sector of the A/E Industry around the reasons for medical equipment changes. I hope this post will catalyze more dialogue on this topic to provide more clarity, particularly reasons for equipment changes late in a project.

I was recently forwarded an article, distributed by CBRE Healthcare Perspectives titled: The Changing Procurement Model for Medical Equipment. (Complete article here.). The title perked my interest. After reading it, I must say I strongly disagree with the assumption re some causes for construction change orders.

The claim is made that NDA’s (Non-Disclosure Agreements) are the primary cause of Change Orders. One could imply that if the vendors were more forthcoming about their future innovation, then there would be no more change orders (or at least very few). In my 15+ years of experience, it’s not NDA’s preventing vendors from talking about changes… it’s the Federal Drug Administration (FDA).

Section 501(k), Federal Act that governs medical devices, prohibits vendors from marketing a device until the FDA has reviewed it and determined its safety and/or effectiveness.  The time to obtain a clearance could be as short as 90 days (FDA’s sourced number) or as long as years.  In the meantime, the vendor cannot communicate (market) any aspect of the new equipment to the public for fear of risking the approval status. I don’t see how any more blame can be placed on the vendors for not communicating future changes.

Other items in the article…

I have some differing opinions regarding Revit driving decisions or causing change orders. Revit is a design tool meant to aid in the construction process. Many factors play into an owner’s decision about medical equipment. (More on this topic in a future discussion.)

Additionally, I disagree that equipment vendors will not provide site specific drawings without a PO.  We deal with this on every project. Many vendors will provide the drawings. For the few that will not, there are alternative ways to obtain site specific information needed for the A/E construction documents.

I remind all, vendor drawings are informational only, NOT for construction; and it’s the responsibility of the A/E team to provide engineered-stamped drawings from the information provided. Simply stating “refer to vendor drawing” is not a substitute for engineered construction documents.

It’s true, sometimes equipment updates can cause change orders, and, despite my disagreements with this article, I do agree with the conclusion.  Managing a successful construction project is all about managing the process, seeking input from the facility stakeholders and remaining in contact with vendors.

My apologies for any potential offense to the author. As I stated previously, I appreciate the knowledge sharing provided. Likewise, I feel compelled to do the same, to help richen the quality of information. I welcome others to do so too.

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