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Forecasting issues before they arise with MR remote monitoring

by John W. Mitchell, Senior Correspondent | September 19, 2018
MRI
From the September 2018 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine


For Canon, scanner vital signs are really just one piece of the puzzle. “It’s not just remote monitoring of certain parameters, but everything else," said Misra. “You have to monitor if [end users] are using the correct sequences, that the version of the software is secure and that there are no vulnerabilities.”

When it comes to the MR environment specifically, there are few, if any, systematic problems more catastrophic and costly than a quench, in which the core temperature of the scanner rises and superconductivity is lost as the liquid helium turns to gas and escapes the machine. Dale McGuire, vice president of research, development, and training at BC Technical, says the company’s ColdTRAC system has helped flag these disasters before they strike.

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“There have been several cases where helium loss was prevented or minimized because we received alerts to address parameters affecting power, temperatures and pressure,” he said. “With Helium costs at all-time highs, even 250 liters of helium can mean several thousand dollars.”

ColdTRAC automatically notifies users (as well as BC Technical engineers), when a given parameter exceeds specifications. The company is now deploying predictive learning capabilities in its monitoring for power, environmental conditions, system errors, vibrations and other MR factors.

If an MR scanner is subject to unexpected downtime, it can set off a whole domino effect of problems for a provider, not to mention the patients who may need urgent diagnostics. Even mundane tasks such as rescheduling exams can cause overtime that increases staffing costs, as well as staff dissatisfaction, fatigue, and attrition.

GE offers OnWatch for continuous
monitoring of critical MR components.
For Daniel F. Bellinger, global MR remote services manager at GE Healthcare, system failures are as much about the bottom line as anything else. As providers struggle with shrinking budgets, having a high-end imaging modality out of commission is just bad medicine.

“Any unplanned downtime eats into exam schedules and impacts the ability to generate reimbursement,” said Bellinger. “Patient volumes are rising faster than expected, demanding that health providers maximize throughput.”

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