When it comes to buying a vaccine refrigerator for your pharmacy or medical practice, it’s easy to fall into that trap of haggling for the “best price possible” and buying the cheapest product, especially if it seems to fit your purpose and budget.
The downside of focusing on the purchase price alone is that buyers also tend to ignore the expense of running and using the refrigerator after purchase. It’s only after you’ve bought, installed and stocked the fridge with vaccines that you’ll start to realise how expensive it is to run and how costly it might be to manage repairs for it, should they be required.
So, the next time you’re looking to buy a vaccine fridge, take the time to look not only at the purchase price but also the lifetime cost of the device. What you may find is that paying a higher purchase price for a superior quality product at the start may, in fact, save you money in the long run.
Here are three things to consider (other than purchase price) before you buy a vaccine fridge.
Probably the most important post-sale expense to consider when buying a vaccine fridge is the cost to run the refrigerator. Some manufacturers promote the energy consumption level of their products while others may not. So it’s best to have an accurate figure on how much power the refrigerator requires to run on a daily basis before making your decision.
Once you know how much power the fridge needs every 24 hours, you can then calculate the total cost of running the refrigerator monthly, annually and for the expected life of the product (be it three, five or more years). Do this calculation to compare similar products and you’ll be surprised at the potential cost savings you’ll benefit from. You may also want to add the purchase price back into your calculation, to give you a feel for the expected total cost of ownership.
When it comes to energy consumption, it’s also worth considering what refrigerant is used to cool the vaccine fridge. Non-HCFC (hydrocarbon fluorocarbon) refrigerants like R 290 and R 600a are known for their positive thermodynamic properties, and so don’t need the power load (and cost) to cool the vaccine refrigerator effectively. Another bonus is, non-HCFC refrigerants reduce greenhouse gas emissions, so that’s good for the environment, too.
The design of the vaccine refrigerator can also contribute to the level of energy consumption and power cost savings, so look for refrigerators with thick insulation and optimised air cooling systems.
Opt for a refrigerator that is manufactured with high-quality materials, tested to international standards for temperature control and reliability, and is Quality Care Pharmacy Program (QCPP) compliant. If possible, check failure rates with suppliers to ensure that the vaccine fridge refrigerator you choose minimises your chances of losing expensive vaccines from cold chain breaches or unexpected breakdowns.
Always check the warranty period provided by suppliers and verify if the cost of parts and labour are included with the purchase of the vaccine fridge. To further protect your investment, ask the supplier to provide details of an authorised biomedical engineer who specialises in vaccine fridge maintenance so you can arrange for them to perform a yearly preventative service call to minimise probability of a breakdown. Obviously, this cost needs to be factored into the total cost of owning the vaccine fridge but can be offset by the assurance it gives you from knowing that your newly purchased unit is in good condition and will continue to work optimally in the future. Preventive check-ups also help you prevent financial loss of stored vaccines due to unexpected system failure and save money in the long run by not having to replace your vaccine fridge earlier than expected.
We hope you found this article useful. If you did, feel free to share with your colleagues or contacts.
That ends the first of two e-mails on this topic. Keep an eye out for e-mail two where we place under a microscope the consumption costs of leading vaccine fridges. We will also share our product reviews on three leading brands.
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AMA Medical Products
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