There will likely come a time when your facility needs a piece of medical equipment. You may even be facing that situation now. In any case, you may be wondering whether to buy the product new or look for refurbished machinery. Here are some considerations to help shape your decision.
The lower price of refurbished medical equipment compared to new items is frequently a deciding factor in this purchasing choice.
A Mordor Intelligence market report spanning from 2022-2027 cited a couple of notable factors spurring the popularity of refurbished goods. First, the COVID-19 pandemic should cause a significant increase in purchases. That’s a likely scenario in a facility such as a hospital, where the increased number of patients needing care might drive the demand for certain equipment.
However, perhaps your company manufactures a product that has been in higher demand since the pandemic began. If medical equipment is necessary to produce it, you may wish to save money by purchasing a refurbished product, too.
The Mordor Intelligence research also mentioned an affordable equipment buying trend. When purchasers know they can get something at an attractive price without sacrificing quality, it becomes increasingly appealing to take that route. For these reasons and others, the report’s researchers anticipated a 12.2% compound annual growth rate over the study period.
However, it’s important to verify whether you’ll have everything you need to use the equipment right away if buying refurbished. If the product needs accessories that are hard to source used and don’t come with the item, you should buy new instead. Having to purchase other things to make something functional may end up not being as affordable as you’d imagined in the long run.
Associated Warranties or Certifications
Whether you buy new or refurbished medical equipment, it’ll likely have warranties and certifications attached to it. However, those specifics vary by provider. Perhaps you need a microtome to take sections from organic and inorganic samples for further analysis. Laboratory technicians often use them when working with patient biopsies. Rotary microtomes are among the most readily available types in the used market. You can even find them via sites like eBay.
Whether you buy something used or new, take the time to learn which aspects will give you peace of mind and tell you that the product is high quality and reliable. Many providers of refurbished goods have internal and external certifications their products must go through before they reach customers. Those processes should help you feel confident the item you purchase will be worth the money and work as expected.
Pay attention to the details of any warranties, too, including the process for making a claim. Learn what the warranty covers and if there are notable exclusions that could influence your purchasing decision.
New items sometimes have longer warranty periods than refurbished products. Even so, many refurbished providers give generous after-purchase guarantees for everything in their inventory. Consider making a side-by-side comparison of the warranties and certifications for refurbished versus new products. Seeing those breakdowns can make it easier to reach a decision.
Supply Chain Availability
Port backups, raw goods shortages and related issues have made it much more difficult for people to source the products they need and get them promptly. The semiconductor shortage is one of the main factors to consider. Lockdowns associated with the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the issue, which continues now. During the early days of the health crisis, there was a shortage of approximately 8,000 items daily for one electronics component manufacturer in Singapore.
As of November 2021, facilities in California were still struggling to get some medical equipment. Terry Racciato, who owns a durable medical equipment supply company in San Diego, said, “We couldn’t keep oxygen concentrators on the wall, couldn’t keep them in inventory. The shipping backlog prevented them from getting into the country, much less getting to patients that need them.”
The owner of a California business specializing in respiratory equipment cited a 25% rise in overhead costs because of the supply chain crunch. He clarified that it now costs $15,000-$20,000 to rent a shipping container that once cost $2,000.
Spend time determining whether a supplier of new medical equipment could get you the product with minimal delay. If not, consider broadening your search to include refurbished goods. The companies offering those are likely still experiencing supply chain issues, although you may find that more of them stock the item you need. In that case, it may be possible to shorten your overall waiting time or even get the product shipped immediately.
It’s also essential to consider the potential adverse consequences of purchasing new or refurbished medical equipment. A product that has just arrived on the market may have undiscovered design flaws or aspects that reduce user-friendliness. Those are more likely to become apparent as the usage rate in the market rises.
However, many refurbished items are older models no longer available to buy new. Since those products have been in use longer, you may find it easier to obtain details about possible risks. Data from the National Reporting and Learning System recorded more than 54,000 patient safety incidents between April 2019 and March 2020. Some such accidents happen when people use products outside of a manufacturer’s intent.
However, they can also occur if products do not consider the human factor. The medical products you buy may only be used in a factory setting and never for patient care. However, if they’re too difficult for your employees to operate correctly, their productivity could decrease or there could be an elevated likelihood of accidents.
Think about the consequences of an item you buy breaking or failing to perform as promised. Then, learn about the available recourse in such situations. Buying a refurbished item from a third-party seller likely would not give you access to the customer service department of the company that originally manufactured it. However, purchasing the item new probably would provide that resource.
Some companies even offer free, one-on-one training sessions to help customers make the most of what they bought. Buying refurbished equipment does not necessarily result in a higher risk. However, it could if you don’t understand what kind of support your money buys.
Is New or Refurbished Medical Equipment Better for You?
There are no universally correct answers about buying new or refurbished medical equipment. The best course of action depends on your budget and how quickly you need the item. However, this overview will help you weigh the options and come to a well-informed conclusion.
Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized, a magazine exploring how innovations change our world.