Healthcare costs are rising across the world. As populations age and healthcare services become available to a greater number of people, the demand for services is increasing.
Maximizing the value of medical equipment by reusing it can be one way of reducing costs. Refurbishment provides a process for ensuring that used medical equipment complies with the manufacturer’s specifications.
The IEC has recently published a new standard IEC 63077, Good Refurbishment Practices for Medical Imaging Equipment, that defines a systematic process for refurbishing used medical imaging equipment. The safety and performance of the medical equipment can be guaranteed without compromising the equipment’s performance, safety specification or intended use.
Markus Braun, the Convenor for the group responsible for preparing the standard, has participated in standardization work related to refurbished medical equipment for many years. He notes that “safety and performance are the most important aspects to be considered with medical equipment and this is no different when reutilizing used medical equipment.
Refurbishment is a method to ensure the continued safety and performance of used equipment as it moves from one medical facility to another”.
Medical imaging equipment, which includes X-ray, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ultrasonic equipment, requires a significant financial investment. According to Braun, “for complex and expensive equipment, it makes sense not to waste all of the inherent work and value. Generally, such equipment can be used for as long as service support is provided”.
A growing market
The refurbishment of medical imaging devices has been an established practice for nearly two decades. According to analysts, the market for refurbished medical equipment is growing and will exceed USD 16 billion by 2024.
The North American market, comprised of the United States and Canada, represents the largest market for refurbished medical devices and is projected to have high growth rate in the coming years.
According to Braun, “refurbishment addresses the high demand for affordable and reliable products. Customers of refurbished medical imaging equipment are not only small hospitals with limited budgets but also leading medical institutions. Refurbishment is a well-established element of the global healthcare economy”.
As an international standard, IEC 63077 allows companies to get certified through an auditing process to check the integrity of the refurbishment process. “This standard is intended to give regulators confidence on the well-established processes in the refurbishment”, concludes Braun.