You Can Save Money on Devices — But Should You?

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Karen Utterback By Karen Utterback 
Former Vice President, Product Marketing and Strategy, McKesson (Retired)
You Can Save Money on Devices, But Should You

Sometimes a deal is not a deal. Take that discount air conditioner that stopped working in July or the used car that needed brake work the month after you bought it. The same is true for the laptops and tablets being used by your field nurses, and it’s worth your time to figure out whether purchasing a less expensive home health device will truly save you money.

McKesson hardware expert Dan Zucchini and Serious Network’s Jason Buck stress the importance of considering the total cost of ownership (TCO), rather than just the purchase price.

Calculating TCO involves the device’s lifecycle, number of battery charge cycles and warranty. For example, say tablet A costs $500 and tablet B costs $1,000 (for essentially the same features). If tablet A has to be replaced every year because it uses inexpensive components and tablet B lasts two years, the pricing begins to look very different.

Now imagine that tablet B’s battery is designed for 500 charge cycles (empty to full) and tablet’s A’s battery is designed for 200 before it will only hold a charge for a short period and has to be replaced. Tablet B ends up costing less than A, despite being twice the purchase cost.

Zucchini and Buck point out other essential elements to consider when purchasing hardware:

  • Remember that every time a device needs replacement, someone must spend time setting it up for the user and decommissioning the old device. Make sure to ask how many hours (not years) a device is expected to last before purchasing it.
  • Failure rates matter, but nowhere near as much as lifecycle. Consider a device with a 50% failure rate, with each failure costing $445. The company is spending $445 every two years per device, but it’s somewhat mitigated by the fact that the device was used daily by a clinician for those two years.
  • Realize that device retailers make significant money selling new batteries; look for devices with longer charge cycles. Inefficient charging (device won’t hold a proper charge and has to be charged frequently) translates to reduced clinician productivity (and a high level of frustration).
  • Remember that product lifecycles are based on average use and that your clinicians may be using their devices beyond that range.
  • Similarly, be aware that some warranties specifically state they’re based on the device being used at home, not for business.

Finally, consider the cost of providing clinicians with a home health device that provides a bare minimum in terms of speed and connectivity. “There’s already enough friction involved with being a visiting nurse,” says Buck. “Find bigger batteries, better wireless capabilities—find ways to keep nurses working because they hate stopping as much as you hate hearing they had to stop.”

Your staff needs more than just the right device to keep up to date on the latest patient information. Find out how Methodist Home Health & Hospice leveraged mobile technology to improve processes and patient satisfaction.

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