WhidbeyHealth reached a deal with Siemens Healthineers to replace all its medical imaging equipment in the next few years with payments spread over a decade, CEO Geri Forbes announced Monday.
“We’ll be replacing 100 percent of the radiology equipment throughout the system, at WhidbeyHealth Medical Center and all the clinics,” she said during a monthly meeting of the public health system.
WhidbeyHealth has agreed to pay a flat fee of approximately $1.5 million each year for the duration of the ten-year agreement. But it won’t have to wait until the final payment for installation of the machines.
Siemens agreed to replace half of Whidbey’s dated imaging equipment in the next three years even though full payment won’ t be made until 2028.
“This provides us the benefit of receiving new equipment and paying for it over time; getting us today’s technology and paying for it with tomorrow’s money,” Forbes told the board of commissioners that oversee Whidbey Island Public Hospital District that includes the hospital and seven clinics.
The collaboration further enhances the level of care and state-of-the-art solutions available to Whidbey residents, Forbes emphasized.
The new technology means hospital patients won’t have to leave their rooms and be rolled down the hall to radiology, which is often uncomfortable for the disabled and elderly, said lead imaging technologist Amanda Garlock.
“We can do everything bedside with this machine,” Garlock said, showing off the first new Siemens machine which resembled an old-fashioned and very large salon hair dryer attached to an oversized fancy computer.
“And we can do imaging right away,” Garlock said.”It saves a lot of time.”
Some of the current x-ray machines are 20 years old, cumbersome, outdated and difficult to use, she added.
To demonstrate, the first portable Siemens machine called Mobilett Mira Max was rolled into the cafeteria where the board meets as the hospital continues to undergo renovation.
The deal with Siemens was long in the making, Forbes said. She also called it unique in the health care industry.
“This is a first of its kind in the United States,” she told the board, adding she predicted other rural health systems will follow suit with similar arrangements.
Siemens Healthineers is a separately managed health care business of Siemens AG, a global engineering and manufacturing company.
It provides medical imaging, laboratory diagnostics, and health-care information technology products to the health care industry in the United States and internationally.
The agreement includes the latest cutting-edge equipment, education, staff training, installation and maintenance over a decade.
Under its terms, 50 percent of WhidbeyHealth’s diagnostic imaging equipment will be replaced within the first three years of the agreement, with 70 percent being replaced within the first five years of the agreement.
“Without the set-up that Siemens did, we could never have afforded this,” board member Nancyjean Fey commented. “It’s being budgeted over the years at a rate we can afford.”
A combination of funds will be used to pay for it, Fey said, including the capital budget, mill levy funds and revenue from patient care.
In the past, the health system has relied on donations to the WhidbeyHealth Foundation to upgrade some equipment, said Patricia Duff, director of public relations.
“This takes the strain off the foundation so it can concentrate on other needs,” she said.
Several Siemens administrators were on hand to vouch for the unusual collaboration and pose for the customary deal-sealing hand-shaking photos.
Aaron Gray, vice president of finances with Siemens Healthineers, said the company wants to go beyond just providing equipment and make a difference within communities.
Part of the technology, he said, includes the ability to provide alerts should additional images or follow-up appointments be needed.
“The agreement includes elements that are different from the traditional agreement,” Gray explained. “It’s more about consulting and how to best serve the customer base.”