By Mary Shinn
Purchasing and maintaining endoscopes is a huge commitment of time and money. In this Q&A roundtable EndoNurse asked instrument-repair professionals to share predictions about future advances regarding scopes and repairs.
As advances in endoscopes are made it is likely for a clinic's inventory to become more diverse. Our repair professionals offered tips for managing inventory and preventing damage. Their responses offer insight into the future of endoscope technology and financially responsible practices.
The roundtable participates include:
Shaun Sweeney, vice president of sales and marketing for Cygnus Medical
Greg Bright, vice president of operations and business development at PREZIO Health
Harvey Buxbaum, president of HMB Endoscopy Products
Ryan Klebba, vice president, Endoscopy Sales, IMS
Jonathan Hart, product manager, IMS
Jeff Headings, branch manager of the Flexible Scope Repair Division for Mobile Instrument Service & Repair, Inc.
Jim Hoffman, vice president of endoscopy and field operations for Spectrum Surgical Instruments Corp. a part of STERIS Specialty Services
What is the future of endoscopes and repairs, will endoscopes continue to be more and more delicate?
Sweeney: Flexible endoscopes continue to strive to be “clearer, smaller, better." With the advancements in HD technology and narrow band imaging, flexible endoscopes continue to become more delicate and more expensive. Achieving smaller outer diameters requires the internal component to become smaller as well. As scopes become more delicate, the cost of repair escalates. Over the past five years we have seen OEM overhauls go from $5,000 or $6,000 to over $10,000. This is a trend that we see continuing well into the future.
Bright: Visualization technology such as endoscopes will continue to facilitate outstanding advancements in healthcare, resulting in improved patient care. As this technology continues to evolve, more complex minimally invasive procedures can be performed. To that end, service facilities should have the appropriate certification, process mapping and Quality Management Systems in place to support these devices. The future is more advanced visualization devices. However, these devices make the need for mechanical, electrical and optical expertise imperative.
If history has taught us anything, it has taught us that there is a critical healthcare need to deliver smaller, less invasive endoscopes. Manufacturers continue to pursue that goal. Albeit meaningful, these advancements in technology have led to more delicate components with smaller tolerances, less tensile strength and more fragile illumination technology.
Buxbaum: As electronic technology advances, scope manufacturers will continue to make smaller diameter scopes with better, more sophisticated optics. These more powerful scopes with smaller diameters are better tolerated by an aging patient population. This miniaturization will make the scopes more delicate and will require endoscopy nurses and technicians to be more concerned about damage during reprocessing.
Independent repair companies will continue to save hospitals and physicians large amounts of money by being able to repair the mechanical aspects of these delicate instruments. However, they may have to bypass the repair of the electronic elements until skilled technicians become available. Even the original scope manufacturers will only be able to replace the electronic components. They will not be able to repair them. This replacement of entire electronic systems, rather than doing electronic repairs, will cost the end users huge amounts of money.
The manufacturers are developing new technologies to make endoscopes more durable. We will have to wait and see if these new scopes, designed to eliminate some human errors, will prove to be acceptable.