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Case Study: Offering Expert Guidance in the Moment of Truth

Jul 31, 2018 | Case Studies, Siemens

When a critical piece of medical imaging equipment goes down, the pressure goes up for the engineer assigned to fix it. Patients grow impatient, physicians and technicians get stressed, and clinics hemorrhage money. At DirectMed Imaging, we call this the “Moment of Truth.”

This is the moment when a medical imaging engineer is called upon to be the hero. The mission is to quickly diagnose and repair whatever problem may be causing the outage. But what happens in those uncommon occasions when an engineer gets stumped? Where can the hero turn for support?

One of our customers encountered that precise challenge when a Siemens CT scanner presented a familiar problem, but the usual techniques failed to resolve it.

The Problem

Rollie Gimblet of Radiology Regional is a medical imaging engineer with more than 30 years of experience diagnosing and repairing Siemens imaging equipment. He goes back to the days before computers kicked out diagnostic codes, so he’s seen just about any challenge a piece of Siemens equipment can throw at you.

Of course, that doesn’t mean he’s infallible. “None of us are truly experts,” says Gimblet. “Every once in a while, a little help is necessary to get a fresh perspective on a problem.”

That was the case about a year ago when Gimblet was called to the scene of a malfunctioning Siemens Somatom Sensation 16. The challenge presenting itself to Gimblet was one he’d experienced before. “I was getting table travel problems where, as you’re drawing the patient back down to the low position, it would stop and the gantry and table would lose initialization.”

Gimblet believes this is the type of problem that can easily throw an Engineer for a loop. “A cable would typically be the last item you might suspect, but I’d had that problem before, and I knew of other guys who’d experienced the same problems as a result of cables weakening over time.” Gimblet describes how the cable take-up in the table assembly collapses and releases each time a patient is raised and lowered by the table. Over years of use, a cable may become faulty, leading to intermittent problems.

Pursuing the cable problem had worked successfully in the past, but this time it didn’t fix the malfunction for Gimblet. He needed a fresh perspective, so he called his go-to resource—DirectMed Imaging.

The Solution

“When you call DirectMed Imaging for support,” says Gimblet, “you just lay out the symptoms, the error log readings, and allow them to point out something you may be overlooking.”

That was exactly what happened in the case of this troublesome table. Gimblet told the support team he was getting errors from the controller, but everyone agreed this was not unusual. As Gimblet puts it, “You’re always going to get those errors anyway.”

In the past, he’d saved time by looking past those readings and digging straight into the cables. But on this occasion, DirectMed Imaging persuaded him that it’d be worth investing some time to inspect the horizontal controller.

“They said try it and see what happens,” recalls Gimblet with a chuckle. “And on that occasion, they were exactly right.” Gimblet pinpointed the controller as the source of the problem and repaired the Sensation the next morning by installing a new part, which was shipped overnight by DirectMed Imaging.

Regarding his partnership with DirectMed Imaging, Gimblet shares an insightful outlook with implications for other engineers. “It’s not that I wouldn’t have figured it out eventually,” he explains. “But sometimes you start down the wrong path, and having another expert offer outside perspective can get you pointed in the right direction more quickly.”

The Results

By collaborating with the support pros at DirectMed Imaging, Gimblet estimates he saved a day of downtime. “The call took no more than ten minutes,” recalls Gimblet. “And in terms of downtime, it could have possibly cost me a full day of operation if I’d made a bad call.”

A full day of CT system downtime could cost an imaging clinic $38,000 to $40,000 on lost patient diagnostics services. What’s more, if those patients continue treatment elsewhere, the financial impact can grow exponentially. That doesn’t include the cost of a CT technical support call to the OEM, which costs $1,200 for a half hour.

Fortunately, thanks to what Gimblet calls a “mutually beneficial partnership” with DirectMed Imaging support staff, Radiology Regional received free support and did not experience any loss. Gimblet recalls, “I called DirectMed Imaging late in the afternoon, and I installed the part the next morning. We experienced no interruption, period.”

DirectMed Imaging provides support for Siemens CT, MRI, angio/cath, fluoroscopy, radiography, mammography, ultrasound, and mobile units. Our support team is loaded with Siemens experts, who have over two decades of combined experience working for the OEM.

Even if you don’t purchase Siemens medical imaging parts from DirectMed Imaging, we’ll be there for you in the “Moment of Truth.” Next time you find yourself in need of a trusty sidekick, call us.

Looking for some useful insights in the meantime? Check out our Tech Tips video series.

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