The acquisition costs of the three diagnostic systems assessed above vary markedly, but what is the annual cost of ownership to operators? To calculate this, AIN assumed a three-year amortization of the purchase price for the VitalLink and Tempus systems (EMS-Link is leased). On top of this, $3,500 was added to the annual cost of VitalLink and Tempus to reflect the new customer/single-aircraft rate charge by medical support provider MedAire (EMS-Link includes the price of medical support in the lease rate).
On this basis the annual costs for the three systems are $20,166 for Tempus, $10,166 for VitalLink and $9,980 for EMS-Link.
In fact, RDT maintained that it expects Tempus to have an operational life of seven years. On this basis, the annual cost for the system would fall to $10,640. Similarly, the cost for VitalLink would drop to $6,356 and EMS-Link would be unchanged, assuming the lease could be extended beyond the initial five-year term.
The 250-percent purchase price differential between VitalLink and Tempus can in part be explained by different features such as the
12- and three-lead ECGs. RDT claims it has taken a more robust approach to engineering and certification, and used entirely purpose-built components.
TeleMedic Systems has made greater use of off-the-shelf components for VitalLink, including the Fujitsu handheld PC, and standard ECG leads and blood-oxygen sensors. It has also employed a manufacture-to-stock process, having up to 150 units built at a time by third-party firms in the U.S. (rather than the more costly UK). However, TeleMedic CEO Chris Turner insisted that the company has retained firm control over systems integration and design, as well as software development. He would not accept the suggestion that performance compromises (compared with the Tempus’ functionality) have been made to reduce the price.
Both the Tempus and VitalLink systems come in “ruggedized” containers. The equipment is also used in harsh operating environments such as ships and war zones.