April 2001

Clinical Engineering Establishes Online Marketplace for Equipment Exchange


To better manage the total life cycle of equipment used throughout Catholic Health Initiatives, clinical engineering and supply chain staff have developed a Web-based equipment exchange program. The program is designed to help bring together market-based organizations and national offices that need equipment with those ready to sell, trade or donate equipment. "In terms of purchasing, our market-based organizations already benefit from the consolidation of Catholic Health Initiatives’ buying power," said Dave Ryan, director of strategic sourcing for Catholic Health Initiatives. "While equipment is in use, Catholic Health Initiatives’ Clinical Engineering Program can provide excellent maintenance services. However, we have not had a strong program for the exchange or transfer of equipment that is no longer needed. That is the gap this program is designed to fill." Phil Englert, information services manager for the Clinical Engineering Program, said that some clinical engineers within Catholic Health Initiatives had been working out equipment exchanges among themselves. "However, there was no structure behind it," he said. "We saw an opportunity to create a structure that will make equipment exchanges easier and more available throughout our system." The program involves posting equipment that is available for sale, trade-in or donation to a database that is accessible through Catholic Health Initiatives’ Clinical Engineering Web site at www.chiclineng.org. Each market-based organization is responsible for posting its own equipment, and for updating or removing their postings as needed. Market-based organizations also have complete control over the negotiation of any transactions initiated through the equipment exchange. "The purpose of the program is to bring buyers and sellers together, but not to dictate terms or control the transaction," said Englert. Equipment offered to internal customers first The equipment exchange Web site has two sides – an internal side accessible only to Catholic Health Initiatives employees and a public side that is accessible to anyone. Equipment posted to the database is available exclusively on the internal side for a minimum of 30 days before it is made available to the public. "We are giving Catholic Health Initiatives facilities the right of first refusal on all posted equipment," said Englert. "This is appropriate for the proper stewardship of our equipment resources. We don’t want to make equipment available to outside organizations until we see if there is a need within our own system." To create a posting, market-based organization representatives can use a series of Web pages to enter information about the equipment. "The process is very simple," said Englert. "Our Web-based program allows multiple data entry points, so every facility can post information about its own equipment rather than submitting everything to a central data entry point." In addition to text, each posting can include up to three photos of the equipment. While the program was originally designed for clinical equipment, it will soon be able to accommodate a wider variety of postings for items such as computer hardware, patient care furnishings, office furnishings, office equipment and plant or facility support equipment. For users who are looking for equipment, the equipment exchange can search the database by equipment category or class. "Users can also conduct geographical searches," said Ryan. "If they are looking for a less expensive item, they may want to find one nearby so that shipping won’t cost more than the item itself." Users who don’t immediately find the equipment they are looking for can also post a "want ad." If the equipment is posted, the Web site will send the user an e-mail notification. Potential cost savings The equipment exchange is now operational and should prove helpful to market-based organizations that are planning capital equipment purchases for the upcoming fiscal year. "This is the time of year that facilities assess their equipment and decide what needs to be replaced, so we expect to see a number of new postings," said Ryan. "If our facilities can find what they need in the equipment exchange, the money saved can be put toward other purchases or initiatives." A transaction that Ryan recently witnessed underscores the potential of the program. "After a Catholic Health Initiatives facility committed to purchase a piece of used equipment from a broker, we found out that two other facilities had just traded in the same equipment for less than a third of the price the first facility had to pay," he said. "That’s the type of experience that the equipment exchange can prevent." How to access the equipment exchange site To see what equipment is available or to post used equipment to the Catholic Health Initiatives equipment exchange:
  • Go to the Catholic Health Initiatives Clinical Engineering Web site at www.chiclineng.org.
  • Click the "Employees Only" button.
  • If you have a password, click the "Login" button, enter your user ID, password and system password, then click "Login" again.
  • If you need a password, click the "Register New Account" button, complete the request form and click "Save." Your password will be e-mailed to you.
  • When the intranet home page appears, click "Surplus Products" and select from the list of options.