Toolkit to Combat Anti-Reprocessing Measures
The Association of Medical Device Reprocessors (AMDR) is always concerned with any anti-reprocessing measures used to impede lower-cost and environmentally-friendly third-party SUD reprocessing programs. AMDR has been alerted, and is now investigating, allegations that some original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are engaging in potentially anti-competitive practices. As such, AMDR has assembled this tool-kit to assist healthcare providers in addressing some of the most recent challenges.
1. Anti-Competitive Contracting Practices
At first glance, some new medical device manufacturer contracts may appear to save hospitals money. However, intentionally ambiguous or complicated terms may ultimately prevent or limit savings by prohibiting or restricting a hospital’s right to purchase third-party reprocessed SUDs.
Keep in mind that:
- Despite initial promises of big savings potential, some contracts may not, ultimately, save the hospital money.
- By using fewer reprocessed devices, hospital waste-reduction goals may not be reached, and waste-disposal costs may increase.
- By agreeing to use fewer SUDs (or not reprocess), hospitals are voluntarily reducing the number of competitive firms seeking their business. Ultimately, this decreases competition and could result in increased costs over time.
2. Kill Switches
Some medical device manufacturers have started offering new versions of their current devices with microchips specifically designed to thwart reprocessing. These microchip devices offer no known technological advantage to healthcare providers or patients over previous models; however, the microchips prevent or delay third-party reprocessors (TPRs) from reprocessing the devices. This “forced obsolescence” means that TPRs are unable to offer hospitals reprocessed devices at the 30-60% percent discount that is normally realized compared to new devices. Forced obsolescence also leaves hospitals in the impossible position of constantly having iterative technology, without an impact on patient outcomes, coming through their doors.
Keep in mind that:
- Microchipped devices may offer hospitals or patients no advantage over the previous models without microchips.
- By forcing hospitals to purchase microchipped devices, OEMs are able to prevent or delay TPRs from reprocessing these devices. As a result, hospitals are unable to subsequently purchase discounted reprocessed devices.
- Forced obsolescence drives up costs for hospitals, patients and the health care system.
- Reprocessing extends the useful life of a medical device; however, the insertion of microchips prevents this extension. This leads to a greater burden on the environment as more viable devices are put into landfills rather than being recycled or reprocessed.