Contracting in medical equipment maintenance services: An empirical investigation
Maintenance service plans (MSPs) are contracts for the provision of maintenance by a service provider to an equipment operator. These plans can have different payment structures and risk allocations, which induce various types of incentives for agents in the service chain. How do such structures affect service performance and service chain value? We provide an empirical answer to this question by using a unique panel data covering the sales and service records of more than 700 diagnostic body scanners. We exploit the presence of a standard warranty period and employ a matching approach to isolate the incentive effects of MSPs from the confounding effects of endogenous contract selection. We find that moving the equipment operator from a basic, pay-per-service plan to a fixed-fee, full-protection plan not only reduces reliability but also increases equipment service costs. Furthermore, that increase is driven by both the operator and the service provider. Our results indicate that incentive effects arising from MSPs leads to losses in service chain value, and we provide the first evidence that a basic pay-per-service plan—under which risk of equipment failure is borne by the operator—can improve performance and reduce costs.
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