FileMaker Pro Brings Light to the End of Repair Shop’s Dark Data Tunnel
Solution Optimizes Workflow & Allows ERS to Analyze Data to Reduce Customers’ Repair Costs
When an endoscope fails or performs poorly, it’s a big, costly deal. Broken scopes lead to downtime and downtime costs money. So how do hospitals, surgery centers and clinics keep their endoscopy suites in full working order? They rely on businesses like Endoscopy Repair Specialist Inc. (ERS) to provide preventive maintenance, loaners and quick-turn repairs on their ailing scopes. Founded in 2006, ERS fixes and refurbishes flexible and rigid endoscopes, video cameras, light cables, hand pieces and other surgical equipment. The company is based in Hastings, Michigan. And to be able to do all of that, ERS relies on a custom FileMaker Pro solution.
Before launching ERS, founding partners Robert Fisher and Bob Hile worked together as endoscope repair techs. Prior to that, Fisher honed his mechanical skills as a helicopter tech in the U.S. Navy.
Recently, ERS sought a better way to manage its business-critical data. Previously, ERS had used a primitive FileMaker Pro database developed years ago by one of the owners back when ERS was a three-person shop. But now, ERS has grown. Desiring better employee access and state-of-the-art app efficiency, ERS turned to eXcelisys for a new FileMaker app.
In Fall 2017, eXcelisys delivered ERS’s new repair-shop tracker app. As an all-in-one business management system, the new FileMaker Pro solution gives ERS one platform to conduct all business affairs. The repair shop app does standard stuff, like generating invoices, bar codes and work orders, but it also coordinates workflow. To keep scopes churning through the repair pipeline, workflow is integrated into the app, which automatically walks employees through each process to ensure scopes move from receiving to repair to shipping with no interruptions.
The custom FileMaker Pro solution also tracks endoscope repair history and location — as in where is the scope in the repair process? Is the endoscope waiting for a part, being fixed by a tech, or sitting in shipping? The FileMaker app also helps ERS administer its loaner scope program. Another new feature includes the ability for techs to add photos and notes about the repairs that are needed so customers can understand the problem.
“There’s no way to compare this system to the old one,” said CFO Denise Fisher, wife of ERS co-founder Robert Fisher. Denise says the new software solution has improved the efficiency with which ERS can access data. Retrieving critical data is certainly easier, thanks to the repair shop app’s all-inclusive “home screen” layout that offers search tabs and task tabs, making it easy to launch a task or filter for essential information.
“I like to bring things up to the surface level,” said eXcelisys developer Duane Weller. “A lot of times with big databases, data tends to get buried.” As Weller worked on the new FileMaker Pro solution, he stayed mindful of ERS’s acute, day-to-day business needs. “They shouldn’t have to dive into the data to find the status of a scope,” said Weller, noting that in the old system, ERS employees had to go to a table and run a search to find simple information.
Now, ERS can filter for any status right from the home screen. This is imperative because customers want to know what’s going on. ERS has about 150 scopes a month coming in and going out. Some stay a day, while others require several days for repair. The new app makes tracking a cinch with a status screen that tells ERS eXactly where each scope is.
A flexible endoscope is basically a thin, bendy telescope made to snake through narrow passages, enabling physicians to eXamine and treat hard-to-reach areas of the human body.
How Does FileMaker Pro Help Endoscopy Repair Specialist Inc. Manage Operations?
Assists with Intake Evaluations/Repair Documentation
After arriving at ERS, each piece of equipment undergoes a 31-step quality control inspection. During the inspection, techs diagnose the issue identified by the customer. Techs also look for signs of wear and tear and make recommendations for preventative maintenance. The app walks the techs through the inspection process, ensuring no component is missed. Inspection details are recorded on the app and archived (along with photos), allowing ERS to keep a historical record on the condition of each endoscope it repairs.
Supports Data-Driven Customer Service
“The new software is great for us internally, but to have it impact our customers as well is incredible,” said Customer Service Rep Shannah Zoller. Zoller uses the new app to compile monthly reports for customers showing the average cost of each repair, turn time and probable causes for the repairs being made. Because ERS keeps a history on each scope, ERS can identify when the same repair is being repeated. This helps clients spot repair trends so internal issues can be identified and staff training can be implemented to reduce repair costs.
ERS provides customers with detailed repair logs to help them identify problematic handling and usage procedures that may be leading to repairs. This proactive customer-service approach helps ERS’s clients with repair-reduction efforts.
Before the new software solution, customers would ask if it seemed like the same repair was being made over and over, but ERS had no hard data to prove it. Now, the information is readily available. “This data is invaluable in this industry,” said Zoller. “We are a small business that’s able to provide this huge service to our customers. We’re in constant communication.”
Speeds Employee Training
Zoller said the new FileMaker Pro system has made ERS “more efficient as a company” and has helped the medical-device repair shop “eXpand quicker than we eXpected” because of the increased efficiency with which employees can be trained. Before, ERS had to guide new employees through each process step, but now, the app automatically prompts for the next step, helping new hires get up to speed quicker.
Manages Data, Ensuring Repair Efficiency
The repair-tracking app also ensures that the techs know what is wrong with a scope when it arrives in the repair lab. Techs never have to waste time asking around to find out what’s wrong with a scope. “We now have procedures in place to make sure our techs are being efficient with repairs,” said Denise Fisher. “Everything is written down and documented — it’s not verbally stated or scratched down on a piece of paper.” When ERS had fewer techs, they could communicate verbally about repairs, but that’s no longer an effective way to handle operations.
Tracks Loaner Inventory
Before the new software solution, ERS had no system for tracking its 52 loaners. Now, the app tracks if a loaner is out at a customer site, is in process onsite, or is available for use. Previously, an ERS employee had to walk to the lab to see how many loaners were in stock. In addition, workflow for the loaners is built into the app so the minute a loaner arrives back at ERS, the employee who checks it in is prompted to send it on for inspection so it can be placed back in rotation.
Scoping out the Future
ERS is pleased with the work of Duane Weller, the developer, and eXcelisys project manager Greg Furry. “From the beginning, the eXperience was nothing but positive,” said Denise Fisher. “Yes, there were panic moments when something wasn’t working quite like we wanted, but Duane would call us immediately and fix the issue. Duane is fantastic. He’s very good at his job.”
In recent months, Zoller has been trying her hand at development, making small tweaks as ERS discovers more ways to harness the power of FileMaker Pro. “If I can do some minor things, that’s great for us as a company,” said Zoller, noting it cuts down on development costs. Zoller said Weller is always willing to provide FMP coaching/consulting by reviewing her code. As the daughter of ERS co-founder Robert Fisher and CFO Denise Fisher, Zoller takes pride in helping move the business forward. “I am pretty proud of my parents,” she said.