3 Tips for Buying a Used Linear Accelerator
The purchase of a new Linear Accelerator can cost between $1 million and upwards of $5 million. Delivery of radiotherapy equipment expenditures doesn’t stop at the equipment purchase. Other items that will be needed include: a simulator, a treatment planning computer, the treatment room, and the salaries of the radiographers and physicists concerned, as well as machine operating costs and interest charges. The total cost is no small matter, so whether planning for a new install or replacing an existing machine, these three tips will help ensure your equipment purchase stays on track.
The planning of a linear accelerator installation can take anywhere from 6 months to 8+ years. We have seen projects span all lengths of time.
- You will want to identify the types of cases and the technology required to treat patients. Consider IMRT, IGRT, Cone Beam CT, respirator gating, or even VMAT options.
- A new construction would involve building constraints – local permits, room dimensions, power and water supply. The renovation of an existing room includes constraints such as shielding, room size and location of isocenter.
- Determine milestones for the following: Vault completion date or equipment testing acceptance date, and when the vendor will arrive to connect your IT to the equipment. By building in flexibility it will decrease uncertainty and potential bottlenecks.
- After clinical goals are agreed on, the next step is to determine a budget for the equipment acquisition. Don’t forget to include the “all other” and ancillary items like patient positioning devices, consumables, equipment commissions and staff training.
Tip 2: Hire an Experienced Team
Hire a team of experts. These experts include the vault design and construction firm, equipment provider, physics support, IT integration team and your clinical implementation team. Don’t get caught in the sand trap of cost over quality. Very few companies can install either new or used linear accelerators
- Ask for references if you are unsure whether your current vendor is up for the task.
- Its best to select an equipment vendor who understands the relationship between hardware and software, and your clinical work flow.
Tip 3: Make a Commitment to Quality
Purchasing a quality used linear accelerator is a 3-step process. 1- make sure you review the service history. Go through the entire history and look for major service events such as a waveguide replacement. 2- review the machine utilization. The beam hours are the indicator as to how much the system has been used. 3- perform a physical inspection.
- Refurbishment consists of cosmetic or mechanical. Staying on top of technology is important. A mechanical refurbishment will safeguard against dated parts and accessories.
- Ensure the installation team understands the hardware and software of the equipment they are installing, and that it meets or exceeds the manufacturer’s acceptance test procedures.
- Make sure there is a seamless transition between the equipment and install team to the entity that will be providing the equipment service long-term.
For more information on how to buy a used Linear Accelerator, be sure to download our free Buyer’s Guide.