When is the right time to upgrade your VNG device?
Like anything else, VNG devices have a lifespan. How long that is may be difficult to say? Much depends on the manufacturer and how well you have maintained the device. It is entirely possible with proper care a VNG device should last at least 7 to 10 years.
As with any technology, the older it gets, the more it becomes outdated. It may be lacking new
features and in the case of VNG devices, expensive to repair. There comes a time with any device to look at replacing yours with new technology. So consider the following major points regarding the decision to upgrade or replace your VNG device.
You start noticing an increasing amount of down time due to malfunctions with your VNG. No one wants to reschedule patients due to technology failures. Will they return for the rescheduled visit? You hope so, but we know that not all will. How much patient care is lost and what does that equate into lost revenue? Plus, what will the repairs cost you?
Reliability problems can be caused by old worn out cameras, aging circuitry, worn out cables, loose connections, improper handling and so much more.
What if your VNG manufacturer is no longer in business? Do you have a company that can properly repair your aging VNG equipment? Older board circuitry components can be difficult to find and replace. Some manufacturers charge a premium for replacing the main circuit boards, often times reaching $10,000. That’s nearly one half the price of a new VNG device, depending on features and manufacturers.
Worse yet, after replacing the boards, you are still left with an old computer, unsupported operating system, aging cameras, and little guarantee that next week you don’t encounter another problem, costing even more money, lost time, patients and revenue. It can turn into a spiraling, out-of-control expense and frustration.
Outdated Computer Operating Systems
Here's another problem. As long as your computer is working, it isn't an immediate concern, but suddenly, your old VNG computer crashes. Now what?
Chances are high your old computer ran an unsupported Windows XP or Windows 7 operating system. Microsoft no longer supports Windows XP and soon will stop supporting Windows 7. If you need to replace the computer, the VNG software of your older system may not be compatible with new operating systems such as Windows 8 or 10. Not all VNG manufacturers have kept up with software upgrades to be compatible with current operating systems.
If you can’t update the software from the manufacturer, then your VNG device is rendered useless.
Data Collection and Output Quality
We covered the reliability and computer problems with your aging VNG device. Now let's consider the quality and accuracy of your data acquisition. In other words, are eye tracings and nystagmus accurate and clear? Are results repeatable and reliable?
It’s a simple fact that current technology for image quality is far superior to older VNG devices. High-definition cameras allow good eye capture and data tracing. Eye-tracking technology is much better with today's software technology than your old system. The end result is more accurate reports and improved diagnosis. The old adage of “Garbage in, garbage out” is still relevant today. New VNG technology is increasingly better and more user-friendly than your old VNG is.
Here's a great example of the benefits of new VNG technology. Some older VNG devices required your technician to manually “mark” the data after a VNG test. That means the technician would need to scan through the VNG results and "manually" select the extremes of nystagmus. This takes a fair amount of time, as much as 5 to 10 minutes per test, costing you thousands of dollars over the course of a year in labor costs. Further, if your technician is really busy, the likelihood of inaccurate marking increases, resulting in an inaccurate report.
A good VNG device will offer automatic data marking that is incredibly accurate, which provides fewer chances of technician error as well as consistency in reporting. Plus, automatic marking eliminates the cost of labor for manual marking. It may seem small, but over the course of a year, you save a ton of money utilizing automatic data marking.
Remote Access Tech Support
If your clinic has a software problem of any sort, does your older VNG system provide online tech support? There are countless times I have personally assisted clinicians and technicians with remote access tech support that was easily resolved. Not only does it save time, it provides quick, accurate assistance to avoid delays due to downtime, which I already mentioned is not good for patients nor the staff.
There are so many other considerations when looking to replace old for new.
Certainly cost is always a factor. Just always keep in mind what your total costs are, including labor, so you make an accurate assessment. The initial investment in a new VNG system may be less than you think due to many lease and finance options, as well as tax advantages.
Don't forget to check with your accountant on your ability to use the Accelerated Depreciation, one-year write off on your new VNG equipment. Depending on your tax rate, you can save a significant amount by writing your new VNG device off in the first year of use. That equates to a cash discount worth thousands of dollars.
All of us know that reimbursement rates are as critical as cost. So again, specifically ask your billing and coding specialist to ensure you are getting the latest information on reimbursements in your area.
Quality and longevity in business is a huge consideration. Just as with buying a new vehicle, everyone knows the manufacturer, product and price are all reflective of the quality. The same holds true for VNG devices.
Finally, who you choose to work with as your VNG vendor is of the utmost importance. Are they easy to contact? Do their actions follow their words? Do you feel as if they are honest? Are they giving you a fair price? Do you have confidence they can handle your support issues? All of these are extremely important questions to consider when making any kind of buying decision, not just replacing your old VNG.
I'm always happy to speak with you about VNG old or new. We are experts in VNG technology with 14 years of experience. I want you to be happy with your buying decision so feel free to comment, call or write to me if you want to discuss your options. I would enjoy the opportunity to hear from you.
--Dan Scherer, CEO
Secure Health, Inc.
260-804-4041 or [email protected]