Care Around the Clock


GE Healthcare's remote service technology helps ensure that patients are rarely turned away, as Radiologie im Silberturm's Ans Duquesne explains.

Keeping customers satisfied is the key to success in business, whatever sector you work in. For manufacturers of medical imaging equipment, this means producing technology that not only creates high-quality images, but is also reliable.

Radiologie im Silbertum, a private radiology centre in St Gallen, exists to provide a fast and flexible service for its patients. The business operates from a large medical facility housing several clinics in different medical disciplines, such as oncology and orthopaedics. Thirty five doctors working within this complex refer their patients to the centre.

A long working day

The centre is open at 7am each day and will often stay open until 10pm, so the staff radiologist and five radiographers work long hours and they expect the centre's imaging technology to be available throughout the day. Fortunately, the equipment used is not only highly dependable; it is also backed up by a service agreement which guarantees that any faults are rectified as fast as possible.

All of the major items of equipment are manufactured by GE Healthcare. They include a 3T MR scanner, a 16-slice CT, X-ray and mammography, and its RIS/PACS system. On a typical working day the doctors see 40-50 patients, carrying out around 30 MR scans, ten CT examinations, ten conventional X-rays and eight mammography appointments.

Maintaining standards

To maintain that level of throughput the centre needs to keep its scanners at their highest level of performance so its field service engineers make regular visits to carry out routine servicing. But what about those occasions when he is unavailable?

That is when GE's remote service technology is essential in keeping services running. The company runs a network of centres around the world where expert engineers are available to give advice by email or telephone.

However late or early it may be in eastern Switzerland, it will be part of the normal working day at one of these centres and so its staff can offer advice within minutes. Simple faults can usually be answered within 15 minutes. Indeed, an average of 50% of these queries can be sorted out within an hour.

The service depends on the unique technology incorporated into the MR and CT scanners, allowing company engineers to remotely diagnose the source of the problem and, in most cases, offer an immediate solution.

Peace of mind

Ever since the 3T MR scanner was installed four years ago, the centre has been able to access this service, although it has rarely needed use. What it really provides is peace of mind for those rare occasions when something actually does go wrong. Then, there is confidence that the problem will be resolved quickly.

If there is a problem that needs the attention of a service engineer, the good news is that he will arrive already fully informed about the likely source of the problem and prepared to deal with it immediately.

Thanks to the remote diagnostics, he will know which parts may need replacing and which tools he needs to bring with him.

Remote control

The remote service technology wasn't necessarily a major factor in the decision to buy this particular MR scanner but it is likely to be a consideration in any future choices. There are many factors that have to be taken into account when buying this sort of technology, most notably the quality of the images and the reliability of the service. It must never be forgotten that the obligation is to patients; the centre's job is to give them the right diagnosis as quickly as possible. Keeping patients waiting is simply not an option.

About Radiologie im Silberturm

Radiologie im Silberturm is a full-digital imaging centre with a 3-Tesla Signa HDxt MRI, a 16-slice CT Lightspeed pro, mammography, conventional X-ray and a Centricity 1000 RIS/PACS system.