I’ve had a few e-mails lately from biomeds concerned with possible layoffs and outsourcing. What can you do? I received an e-mail in response to our March feature, “Design Your Day,” about starting your own ISO. While this article was not about outsourcing but about stepping out on your own, our reader did respond to it based on his experience with ISOs. As you read his comments, please keep in mind this is not meant to cast aspersions on ISOs, but he has shared his frustration and some thoughts, which I hope will stimulate dialogue among you that will yield some “best practices” on how to cope with the possibility of outsourcing. Also, have a look at our April feature, “Managing the Budget Crunch,” that also has some tips on this topic.
The e-mail I received says, “The e-mail I sent you reflects my frustration with this business model from the perspective of a hospital biomedical engineer when decisions of this nature are made by the administration. This is a very technical field and requires working with equipment that is unique to my hospital on a day-to-day basis to provide optimum support. Unless the third-party organization has a lot of integrity and views their position as an advocate of the hospital, it is not a good investment for the hospital. Please feel free to use my comments as it may save some organization from a painful learning experience about the nature of these contracts, or at least motivate them to examine what it is they are receiving for their money.”
He continues: “I have been a hospital in-house biomedical engineer for 30 years. We have had a number of ISO contracts for various departments in the hospital and have found their focus is not on being an advocate for the hospital and their profit motive causes them to cut corners, sticker their PMs, and check off their PM lists by walking around rather than doing them. In every case, we have not renewed the contracts on these ISOs—either because of excessive charges for work not done, or cherry picking equipment on contract, or inferior workmanship. In a number of cases, we have had to bring the equipment back to a working level that would allow us to cover it under contract with the manufacturer. The reason these ISOs can get away with their business model is that there is not anyone with a working knowledge of biomedical engineering evaluating their work and the value of their contracts. Department managers or the people in finance just cut and sign the POs for these ISOs, but do not have the technical expertise to understand what they are buying. I have found from experience that they are not delivering much for a high price.”
Looking forward to your comments on how to let your finance people know that you are the best person for the job.