Signa MRI users download upgrades over Internet

October 11, 2000

Some high-field MRI owners have begun downloading a software upgrade from the GE Medical Systems Web site—a first-time event for them and the company. Since the first Signa scanner was introduced in the early 1980s, more than 20 software releases

Some high-field MRI owners have begun downloading a software upgrade from the GE Medical Systems Web site—a first-time event for them and the company.

Since the first Signa scanner was introduced in the early 1980s, more than 20 software releases have been provided to the installed base. This is the first one, however, that can be downloaded from the Internet.

“Customers are going to demand this from us for all modalities, because it makes sense,” said Michael Minogue, general manager of GE Medical Systems installed base. “It helps them justify their purchase (by getting firsthand experience).”

The software is available for a 30-day trial at no charge, Minogue said, as part of the company’s eFlexTrial initiative. At the end of the free trial, a software key inactivates the upgrade. By then, customers will have had a chance to assess the product’s value.

“If they want to buy it, they can log back onto the Web and go through that process or go through the conventional process, have a quote generated, and purchase it that way,” Minogue said.

The first upgrade available this way, Multislice Multiangle (MSMA) software, provides enhanced imaging for the Signa 1.5-tesla and 1-tesla 5X/LX. MSMA allows acquisition of nonparallel MR images more efficiently, resulting in shorter patient exams.

Customers can order the upgrade from anywhere in the world. Using any computer, a user logs onto the Web site, registers, punches in a system identification, and the software and a tutorial are downloaded directly into the user’s system. Access is limited, however, to customers with InSite, GE’s remote diagnostics and maintenance e-link, which serves as the pipeline that delivers the software. Each download triggers an e-mail to Minogue, whose staff follows up with a phone call to the site within 48 hours.

“We ask if everything is running OK or if they have any questions,” he said.

More MRI upgrades are being readied for downloading over the Internet. Later this month, similar downloads will be available to the company’s CT installed base. By the first quarter of 2001, owners of GE nuclear medicine and x-ray equipment will have their own software upgrade choices.

“This is the future,” Minogue said. “Customers like it.”