Reality check: when's the last time you discussed veterinary monitors with your customers?
And when's the last time you made an inventory of their monitors, looking at the age and performance of the equipment?
Chances are, each week you're walking into several practices that have tired or feature-limited monitors the staff is counting on to make sure vital signs aren’t compromised during sedation (for surgeries, oral health exams, etc.). These include machines that monitor heart rate and blood pressure, the amount of carbon dioxide being expelled during breathing, and the amount of oxygen in the blood.
They're very important to ensure the health of patients.
So think about this. These machines do break down over time, or they lack today's accurate new features, and they must be replaced to avoid risking patient and staff safety.
Outdated equipment can pose the following risks that can be corrected with newer models:
- There's more potential for human error when setting up patient information in older monitors that require manual typing, etc. Today's smart touch-screen graphical interfaces use intuitive prompts that make patient setup easier, faster, more thorough, and more precise.
- Teams may be missing signs of potential complications if they're using older, limited-parameter monitors. Today's multi-parameter monitors have been shown to lead to fewer complications.
- Outdated equipment may not be integrating vital sign data for a comprehensive picture of patient health, which means important information may be missed when assessing the patient's overall condition during procedures and recovery. Today's data connectivity ensures that ALL information can be easily viewed and shared for staff/client communications or consultations.
- Older models may or may not be using veterinary-specific vital sign monitoring. Today, practices can choose from a number of monitors that are veterinary specific.
- Flexible, remote control of monitors and data is not necessarily possible with older monitors. Today's models offer remote viewing and control from computers, smartphones, tablets and other devices, anywhere in the practice.
If you're seeing older models or even worse — medical tape as a "repair" on a monitor… or any other kind of DIY workaround to make a monitor last longer — it's time to sit down and have that conversation:
"Doctor, what's the current state of your monitors? Depending on their age and condition, it may be time to consider upgrading to new units."
Now, why is it a great time to have this discussion RIGHT NOW?
Well, we're in Q4 of 2016, which means practices still have time to take advantage of the IRS code Section 179 on equipment purchases for this tax year, if they qualify.
As a reminder, the IRS explains that, "You can elect to recover all or part of the cost of certain qualifying property, up to a limit, by deducting it in the year you place the property in service. This is the section 179 deduction. You can elect the section 179 deduction instead of recovering the cost by taking depreciation deductions."
For tax year 2016, a business such as a veterinary practice, can deduct up to $500,000 in qualified equipment purchases. That can make the purchase worthwhile now.
It's important to note that the equipment must be placed in service by December 31, 2016. And, you'll want to advise practices to talk with their accountants to determine if this expense qualifies.
In addition, there's a chance that monitor manufacturers could be offering special pricing or financing to help practices place orders now. Be sure to check with manufacturers to see if this is the case.
Then, prepared with this information, you'll want to want to ask practices, right away, the following questions while there's still time to place new monitors in service for 2016:
- When did you put your current monitors into service? (The older the monitors, the more likely they need to be replaced.)
- Are they still operating at 100%, during every procedure… or have you experienced any issues with your monitors? (Any lags in service could endanger patients and your staff.)
- Let's look at the safety issues related to old monitors… are you familiar with them? (Practice teams may not be aware of the serious problems that come with outdated equipment.)
- What have you seen or heard about the advancements in new monitors? (This opens the door to discuss or introduce the benefits of new monitors, whether or not the practice has heard about them.)
- What would it mean to your staff if you could invest in more efficient and safer monitors, with special tax deductions if you qualify? (And special financing or price breaks if offered by manufacturers?)