To rent or not to rent: That is the question

Here is a set of factors to be weighed on the scales while taking medical equipment on a rental basis

The helpful and the well-intentioned among those in the business of offering medical equipment on a rental basis discourage customers from renting some medical devices unless they will be used only for a short period — say, anywhere from one week to one month.

Hygiene and cost are two overriding factors.

BiPAP (a small breathing device that helps a person with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) breathe more easily), CPAP (a breathing device), nebuliser, ventilator and oxygen concentrator are some of the most sought-after medical equipment that people have started buying since the pandemic began.

Shabeer Mohamed, CEO, Entrusted Medical Devices, discloses that since the pandemic began, they have discontinued renting of medical equipment just to be able to focus on retailing.

According to Mohamed, renting of respiratory equipment, in particular, is not cost-effective for customers.

“You cannot tell with absolute certainty how long certain devices would be needed, as that is based on how the patient is responding to the treatment and what the doctor has to say about the duration such equipment would be needed. So, rentals can eat up their money,” he says.

Mohamed cites the example of a new BiPAP machine costing somewhere between ₹40,000 and ₹50,000 in the market, while the same when hired would cost anywhere between ₹ 8000 and ₹10,000 for a month.

Buying a concentrator on EMI would come around ₹3500 a month while the same equipment on rent would require one to shell out ₹6000 a month. “The security deposit also needs to be factored in,” he says.

Wear and tear is another factor. “The output of a second-hand machine is not as good as a brand-new one,” he says.

Hygiene is a major challenge.

“You need a diagnostic equipment to find out if the device is functioning properly and one also needs to keep calibrating and check it for output,” says Mohamed.

MedCuore Medical Solutions has reportedly done 170 rentals in the last eight months and sold more than 50 oxygen concentrators.

“We do both but I would prefer retail over rental,” says Paul Pradeep, CEO of the company. “After sterilisation of a concentrator only 80 per cent efficiency can be assured.”

Unless one is looking for a concentrator for a short period of 15 to 20 days, more as a back-up in case of an emergency, I would not recommend renting one, says Pradeep.

Besides, with many imported concentrators entering the market, the question of quality looms big. “For the next two to three years, as per experts, a family needs to invest in a concentrator so the brand must be a determining factor in any decision to buy one,” he says.

If cost is one reason why customers choose rentals over retail then many outlets are offering various packages.

At Universe Surgical Equipment, customers can pay back on returning a used device.

Dr. Robin Jeya Bensam says renting or buying medical device depends on the patient, his/her nature of illness and duration of use.

He says: “Renting of a oxygen concentrator is fine as far as the consumable parts — mask, tube and humidifier —are replaced with a new kit for a patient.”

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