A high-tech arms race is escalating in the scanner service industry--tothe benefit of equipment users. Mediq Engineering and MaintenanceServices launched a remote scanner diagnostics product last monththat competes head-on with GE's InSite remote
A high-tech arms race is escalating in the scanner service industry--tothe benefit of equipment users. Mediq Engineering and MaintenanceServices launched a remote scanner diagnostics product last monththat competes head-on with GE's InSite remote diagnostics package(SCAN 1/29/92).
Mediq's remote system, labeled MEMserv Diagnostics, offers a moredecentralized approach than does InSite, according to Bruce Cree,vice president of new business development for the Arlington,TX, independent service organization.
Rather than housing the diagnostic software in a central computer,which then dials into a remote imaging system, MEMserv placesthe diagnostics in a rack-mounted personal computer that residesin the scanner host computer system. This allows field engineersto dial in and perform diagnostics from almost anywhere, usingtheir laptop computers, he said.
"GE can only run the diagnostics from Milwaukee, whereasany of our engineers can dial into the site and run the diagnostics,"Cree said.
Mediq offers a central service database called the MEMserv InformationCenter that tracks service calls and codes various imaging systemproblems. Engineers call into the database and find the most likelycause of the failure in the systems they are working on. The ISOwill also initiate remote image transmission next month that willenhance its ability to troubleshoot scanner problems, he said.
Scanner vendors have tried to distance themselves from their ISOcompetitors by developing proprietary service technology, suchas advanced diagnostic software and remote servicing. Mediq hascountered that effort with a significant investment in its ownR&D.
"We made a conscious decision to become a high-end (maintenanceservice) provider. In order to do that, we had to make an investmentin R&D. We have done that," Cree said.
The service firm wrote its own advanced diagnostics software,targeted first at the GE 9800 CT scanner. However, the basic diagnosticscan be adapted to function with other types of equipment withouthaving to program from scratch, he said. Mediq currently servicesSiemens, Picker, GE and Technicare scanners.
While advances in diagnostic software and remote monitoring helpMediq compete with other ISOs and the scanner vendors, the customerremains the main beneficiary. Repair cycle times are shortenedso scanners are down for shorter periods, he said.
Initiation of Mediq's radiology capital asset management programhas been a second major strategic thrust for the company, Creesaid. The program was finalized in November and has been operatingsince June at a beta site in Children's Hospital of Columbus,OH.
RCAM extends the range of service Mediq will offer, although theISO will continue to restrict its endeavors to imaging equipment.Mediq previously maintained specific pieces of equipment underservice contract. RCAM, on the other hand, is a package deal forthe care of all imaging equipment within a radiology department.
Mediq will place an asset manager on site at a hospital. Thismanager will provide preventive as well as trouble-shooting maintenance.When Mediq cannot perform the service itself, it will contractwork out to either the imaging equipment vendor or other ISOs.The service firm will also offer advice on purchase and sale ofequipment, Cree said.
"We will be involved with every aspect of equipment life,"he said. "Hospitals are looking at alternative ways of managingthe assets of radiology and controlling costs. Our program doesthat first and foremost."
Mediq expects to increase the breadth of its in-house engineeringexpertise as the capital asset management program proceeds. Thefirm plans to expand shortly into MRI service and will hire additionalservice engineers to back this effort, he said.