contacted several experts and asked about purchasing and maintaining equipment. We also asked about the latest advancements. The panel members are Matthew Dedman, Director of Strategic Accounts for CT at Siemens Healthineers; Sarah Lee, Vice President, MIT; Josh Raines, Vice President Technical Services, Tri-Imaging and Ed Sloan Sr., President and CEO, Ed Sloan and Associates.
Q: What are some of the biggest challenges of purchasing and maintaining CT equipment?
A big challenge today is that our customers are acquiring a CT scanner now with the expectation that we are not going to change out that piece of equipment for maybe 8 to 10 years or even longer; in the past, they bought a CT scanner with a 5- to 7-year replacement cycle. The challenge is finding a solution with the flexibility to allow for future upgrades that expand critical services. A big challenge on the service side is that CT is becoming the frontline gold standard imaging modality for many hospitals – a critical modality to the point that if their CT scanner is down, they may have to put their hospital on diversion and no longer accept imaging patients. So, obviously, uptime is even more important. In short, finding a key solution that is flexible, adaptable, and upgradeable to meet future demands and critical needs as well as a CT service provider that can proactively monitor and maintain CT equipment to avoid downtime is crucial.
Lee: From our standpoint, as the service company, the biggest challenge would be being able to find the system with everything on it that the customer wants. It is always doable, it just takes some time. The only challenge with maintaining equipment is finding parts for the older equipment hospitals still have.
Raines: Some of the biggest challenges are tube availability and parts for newer systems. Another challenge is finding qualified service engineers to work on the newer equipment.
Sloan: The most glaring challenge is the cost associated with buying and maintaining new equipment. Many of our customers overcome this hurdle by purchasing quality preowned systems. Selecting the appropriate technology to suit the current and future procedural demands of the department. In reality, not everyone needs a 512-slice CT or a 32 channel MRI.
Q: What are some of the latest advancements in CT equipment that facilities should consider when purchasing new?
CT scanners, like many other technologies, are becoming more efficient than ever. As a
result, manufacturers such as Siemens Healthineers are introducing CT platforms with smaller X-ray generators, lower power requirements, lower cooling requirements, and a smaller footprint. All of this translates into lower operational expenses for the hospital, so Siemens Healthineers has invested in efficiency technology to allow these lower power requirements and lower cooling requirements to reduce that operational expense for our customers. This is being done without compromising the critical care. Many new technologies in the industry are related to efficient operation of a CT scanner, to ensure that the scanner operates within ideal parameters to extend the life of the equipment and specifically the life of its X-ray tube. Technologies exist – particularly from the biomed aspect – that are important advances to consider in CT, knowing that biomeds will be maintaining this asset up to 8 and 10 years or longer, and how critical CT has become to hospital operations. These efficiency features all help ensure lower downtime for that equipment.
Lee: If they are buying refurbished equipment, specifically GE, the console is what they need to look for. The extreme console is faster and does not go down like the older consoles.
Raines: One of the latest advancements is the improved image quality of scans available with a lower dose than what was needed with previous systems.
Sloan: Buyers should be sure they will use the technology. Sometimes getting it loaded with all the bells and whistles is great, but always look into how needed it is for your operation. What needs to be a priority is enhancing patient care and streamlining productivity.