Suppose you had your car repaired by the dealership for awhile and then decided to use a qualified local repair shop to save money. Then the shop owner tells you the manufacturer put secret passwords in the car’s computer that prevents him from working on it, forcing him to decline the work. Your only option was to pay for the more expensive dealership service. How would you feel?
In our opinion, this is the actual scenario playing out in the realm of medical systems sold by some OEMs. (an OEM is an Original Equipment Manufacturer) Read this article and see if you agree.
The ‘Software Update’
A ploy that is gaining momentum is the ‘software update’ that achieves the same result. Here is the way it may work: During a maintenance service visit, an engineer has been instructed to perform an 'update' designed among other things, to lock out other service providers. This might be in the form of a monthly dynamic password required to gain access to critical software needed for normal system calibrations. Or they may even remove your computer administration access rights.
Your technologist will not see any operational differences, but the software changes could prevent an Independent Serviceman (like Gamma Systems Services) from servicing this equipment without you calling the OEM, and paying for these passwords. If such is the case, you as the equipment owner, can play a role in preventing this from happening to your system. The software revision number may tell you if this has already happened to your equipment.
If you own the equipment, like the illustration of the automobile above, you have the right to know what a serviceman does to it. Ask specific questions of the engineer or his supervisor. You can refuse any such updates, and demand to revert to the earlier version without the calibration lock-outs.
If an OEM practice has the final effect of forcing your facility to continue with their expensive service by locking out other service providers, we believe competitive market pricing is lost. That seems neither fair nor in the best interests of the imaging industry.
Gamma Systems Services, Inc.
Legal Disclaimer: "We genuinely believe that such practices are occurring but such occurrences have not been independently verified or proven or established by any authority or court of competent jurisdiction"
We service: ADAC®, Siemens®, Philips®, GE®, Segami®, NC Systems®, Picker®, Trionix ® Digirad ®
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