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New wireless tracking system aims to mobile imaging systems service response times

Philips Medical Systems : 12 March, 2008  (New Product)
Philips is developing an optimised repair and tracking system for mobile diagnostic imaging systems, anticipated to improve overall efficiencies significantly.
The imaging systems, which are placed into custom 18-wheel mobile coaches, are in transit and because routes may change, locating units and making repairs has been a challenge for service providers. With Philips Remote Services (PRS) for Mobiles, the process can be made more efficient through the use of global positioning system (GPS) location technology, Internet data connectivity, and standard voice service to diagnose and potentially repair the imaging equipment remotely.

Philips mobile systems for diagnostic imaging - magnetic resonance (MR), Computed tomography (CT), nuclear medicine and cardiovascular labs - are in operation by healthcare providers on average of 12 to 15 hours a day, six days a week. When equipment malfunctions, patients and care providers are forced to delay imaging procedures until the repair is completed. Often a patient who has already been prepped for a scan may have to be rescheduled if the system is not back up quickly. This is not only frustrating to the patient, but it also increases the service providers’ overall operational costs and, most importantly, may delay diagnosis.

The tracking system was developed to counteract these issues and streamline the process of analysing system data and anticipating potential problems. The PRS includes a combination of networking links and hardware, which facilitate the ongoing maintenance necessary to implement Philips’ advanced remote services platform. The secure, single point access for all Philips equipment via Internet VPN, Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN), or analogue connectivity enables the malfunctioning equipment to be immediately pinpointed.

The benefits of real-time visibility and traceability of these mobile systems enable healthcare organizations to proactively monitor operations, efficiently troubleshoot and potentially resolve problems remotely within minutes and before they become bigger issues.

“Philips Remote Services for Mobiles is a valuable asset management technology that has helped our organization better understand our system environment and helped the Philips field service team perform in a faster and more effective manner,” said John Roberts, Jr, MSc, director, mobile operations, Integral PET Associates based in New York and Paoli, Pennsylvania, USA. “Further, we have experienced an increase in overall system performance, and I have seen a decrease in the number of system issues coming to me at all hours.”

Co-designed with Astral Communications, the PRS system boasts several benefits both financially and for patient care. The advanced system may help customers prevent revenue losses on equipment reduce downtime which may inconvenience patients or delay diagnosis.

“With the PRS for Mobiles, we can contact the units and diagnose problems more efficiently,” said Ketan Shah, senior manager of mobile enterprise for Philips Healthcare. “What used to require hours of driving time for repairs can now be done in minutes since engineers from our remote technical operations can dial in to proactively monitor and diagnose systems. Additionally, we estimate the PRS enables us to respond up to 50 percent faster on many of the service calls for equipment problems because of more accurate tracking and remote diagnostics.”

In addition, Philips Healthcare was recently selected as a finalist for Qualcomm’s 3G A-List Awards 2007 for its utilisation of 3G (third generation) wireless technologies in the PRS tracking solution. The awards recognise companies that have implemented innovative and successful enterprise wireless data solutions based on 3G CDMA wireless standards. Philips was one of two finalists selected in the Healthcare sector based on significant gains in operational efficiency using 3G CDMA.
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