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Used vs. Refurbished Medical Imaging Equipment

Difference that buyers of used or refurbished medical equipment should understand before making any decisions

When we hear the word “used”, often times we think of something old, worn out, and nonfunctional. (I personally think of a noisy, rusted clunker whose wheels are falling apart.) But then comes along the word “refurbished”, and we question whether this is just a fancy way of saying used or if there is more to it. Fancy word? Yes. Can we use them interchangeably? No. While it is safe to say both refer to products that are in working condition, there is a difference that buyers of used or refurbished medical equipment should understand before making any decisions…or judgments.

There is no harm in questioning used OR refurbished medical equipment, especially when it’s used for a high volume of patients. Just bear in mind that because a piece of equipment is labeled as “used” or “refurbished” does not make it less effective or less functional.

For any reason, whether it is a surplus of machines or a decline in business, a medical company may decide to sell equipment that is perfectly functional. Even if the machine has barely been touched, it is no longer considered new, and becomes secondary. This also means a very good piece of equipment is now on the market for a low price. Used medical equipment can cost up to 70% less than new equipment.  Additionally, many pre-owned machines may undergo inspections, repairs (if needed), and even testing to ensure it is operational for ACR Accreditation and will meet OEM quality standards.

“Used” doesn’t sound so bad after all, does it?

Used vs. Refurbished Medical Imaging Equipment

Refurbishing a Philips Marconi MX8000 CT ScannerA used medical device generally refers to equipment that is sold “as-is”. There are no changes or fixes made to the product. Refurbished medical equipment usually has some work done to it, be it a paint job, a quick replacement, or an extensive upgrade. One is not necessarily better than the other; it all depends on the buyers needs, budget and resources.

Aside from their different meanings, there are other differences in used and refurbished medical equipment. When buying a used medical imaging system, not only are you buying a very low-priced item, it typically does not come with a warranty. Often times, buyers are responsible for any parts or labor that may be needed to complete the deinstallation, physical movement of the equipment, and eventual re-installation. In most cases, these issues can be handled in a fair and ethical manner between both the buyer and seller.

As for refurbished medical equipment, since it is usually tested to ensure quality control, calibrated, and upgraded with new parts, it is safe to consider that refurbished products are “as good as new”. Refurbished systems include a variety of warranty packages with delivery and installation included. Agreements made for refurbished equipment also depends on the budget of the buyer and the product itself. For example, when buying a CT scanner, the refurbished system may include a new x ray tube, replacement of major components, installing the latest revision level operating SW, cosmetics, delivery, rigging, installation, and a one year warranty.

Buying used or refurbished radiology equipment is certainly a cost-effective strategy that can achieve the same goal of providing excellent image quality and patient care at an affordable price. When buying second hand medical equipment, be sure to consider whether it will meet the quality standards and guidelines for the future. For example, as systems such as the ultrasound have become more technologically advanced, the older ones are now considered obsolete. Older MRI scanners however, could still be up to par; and the machine itself requires little refurbishment.

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Now Tell Me About Used vs. Refurbished MRI

First and foremost, it is important to understand that MRI scanners do not possess many moveable parts (with the exception of the table) like other imaging systems, so it is very unlikely for the machine to experience extensive damage unless it is broken or quenched.

Purchasing a refurbished MRI should be reviewed extensively by the buyer though. An MRI typically hits the refurbishment process when the coldhead has aged and needs replacement, or if the absorber needs to be changed out. Other changes consist of more minor cosmetic restorations, coil repairs, SW upgrades, etc.

So there you have it: used is as good as refurbished, and refurbished is as good as new. Next time you find a “used MRI” on the market, check it out before dumping the opportunity.

There Must Be Some Risk Involved

As with any investment, new, used or refurbished, you always want to buy with a trusted source that guarantees quality. Also, know exactly what’s included in the terms; get a copy from your provider listing the refurbishments and the coverage of the warranty. Since there is very limited or no warranty when purchasing used medical equipment on an as is basis, asking to perform an inspection prior to the purchase and getting opinions from other qualified engineers will prove to be very helpful.

As long as you are working with a reliable seller, the benefits will certainly outweigh the financial risks of buying used or refurbished medical equipment. If you need help making a decision about second hand medical equipment, give us a call, we would be happy to guide you in the right direction.

Amber Diagnostics has served the healthcare community for over 25 years by offering affordable and high quality refurbished and pre-owned medical equipment. Save money with our financing solutions tailored specifically to the healthcare community at no risk because of our warranties. We also offer turnkey service and technical support, all so you can provide continuous patient care while maintaining your imaging revenue. Contact us and we’ll create a custom solution for your specific business and imaging needs.


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