Are you thinking about purchasing FEES equipment? Here is a guide to help you make an informed decision.
First of all, get quotes and demos from multiple vendors. Take a look at the different equipment options out there and weigh the pros and cons of each. Attending a large conference can be an excellent way to visit multiple FEES vendors and get your hands on the equipment. When choosing equipment, keep in mind that cheaper might not be better. Look at the image quality, the light source, and software capabilities. Also, consider ease of use, portability, and customer service. If you buy the cheapest equipment and don’t use it, it turns into a very expensive coat rack.
Here are some tips and questions to ask:
- What type of scope is it? Distal chip scopes are getting better and better as advances in technology allow for small, high-quality cameras. Distal chip scopes can be fragile and more expensive to repair. A good endoscope can last for a long time if well cared for.
- What type of light source is used? Is it battery operated? How often do you need to recharge the batteries?
- Does the software record audio?
- Does the software allow slow motion and frame-by-frame playback? This is essential for excellent interpretation. Note that some systems require downloading separate software programs in order to allow for frame-by-frame playback. You’ll want to make sure that any additional software is approved by your Information Technology (IT) team.
- How does each vendor handle software updates and repairs? Do they offer loaners in the event that you have to send your equipment back for repair?
- What is included in the package (cart, archiving device, storage equipment)?
- Are they compatible with your facility’s electronic medical record (EMR) system? If so, do you want to integrate the system or keep it separate and transfer certain types of info, such as pictures and reports. Sometimes facility IT departments will not want the systems to be fully integrated because of the cost involved in storage on the EMR.
- What is the warranty?
- What are the methods approved for cleaning the scope? Each manufacturer has different requirements and you’ll want to run everything by your Infection Control Department from the beginning. For example, some endoscopes are approved for use with automated reprocessors, some require manual soaks, and some can tolerate gas. You’ll want an infection control policy in the works prior to purchasing your system, as it could be a road block to starting your program. Most vendors won’t honor the warranty if a scope is damaged because of mishandling during processing.
- Find out how your facility is already processing ENT Endoscopes that are used for visualization (not surgery), as you may not need to re-invent the wheel here. The Infection Control department may need you to help them understand that high level disinfection is required, not necessarily sterilization.
- Think about it from all angles including transporting clean and dirty scopes (trays, bags etc). Also consider the dry storage options. Will you be using a cabinet? The vendor you choose can assist with this.
Other Things to Consider:
How will you be trained? What is the cost of training? Do you have a mentor for supervision with patients after attending a FEES training course? Remember, ASHA’s Code of Ethics states “Individuals shall engage in the provision of the professions that are within the scope of their competence, considering their level of education, training, and experience.”