Break-and-Fix is Broken: For MENAT Healthcare Providers, Servicing Requires Data and Digitization
February 8, 2022
In the past, repairing and servicing medical imaging equipment was about ensuring uptime by fixing machines when they break or providing scheduled maintenance to keep them in good working order.
This has changed in an environment where public and private healthcare providers are looking to better manage capital and operating costs, while also providing more access and delivering higher levels of patient care.
“Historically, service has been predominantly about break and fix,” said Peter Koyess, General Manager of Service Sales for Emerging Markets at GE Healthcare. “Our commitment was all about uptime. But now, uptime alone is not enough.”
“Customers are looking for ways to improve the return on their investment. They are looking to get more out of their equipment and tap into incremental revenue opportunities enabled by the latest medical technologies, while enhancing the patient experience,” he said.
Over the years, healthcare providers have seen a rise in the number of medical assets they own and the number of treatment options they offer, making it even more difficult to manage and optimize their fleet.
“What we frequently see, although fleet uptime is close to 100%, utilization is far lower. So hospitals aren’t getting the best use of their equipment. Gaps in asset utilization are mainly due to most of our customers not having, or not using, the information they need to make informed decisions,” he added.
To address this, Koyess said, GE Healthcare leverages the data collected by iCenter ®, a secure online tool that provides multiple data points from each GE Healthcare imaging machine. Data such as the number of patients scanned per day, what types of scans are being performed, how long each scan takes, and many more can be benchmarked against similar medical equipment within a site, across multiple sites, or against a global database.
By reviewing the data with imaging experts from GE Healthcare, Koyess’s Service team can help customers with insights that not only identify areas where they might be able to increase staff productivity, improve process management, or help optimize patient flow, but also make specific recommendations on how to achieve those improvements.
“By comparing data such as exam duration or how many rescans were done, we can help administrators identify specific areas for review and enhancement,” he said.
“Steps could be taken for retraining an operator or identifying an opportunity to transfer some types of exams from one machine to another for better overall equipment fleet utilization and patient throughput.”
Data Delivers for Remote Services
As in so many other areas of life, the pandemic supercharged the transition to digital and remote solutions in the field of healthcare, Koyess said.
Throughout the Covid-19 crisis, GE Healthcare customers have benefitted from GE’s existing remote maintenance and repair solutions that have allowed about one-third of service issues to be resolved remotely.
As well, the data generated by the equipment is not only used to help healthcare facilities improve their utilization, it also powers GE Healthcare’s predictive and proactive services. OnWatch ®, a service that provides continuous monitoring of critical subsystem elements within the imaging equipment, provides peace of mind by predicting impending failures of critical components, helping to reduce or convert unplanned downtime into a planned service event.
It proactively alerts GE Healthcare Service engineers to a machine’s future need for repair or part replacement. As a result, the work can be scheduled at a time convenient for the customer.
In addition, GE Healthcare’s Tube Watch®, consolidates the data gathered from an X-ray machine and its components to simulate real-world situations using machine learning. This delivers insights into what might happen in the future and helps predict the estimated tube failure date with high accuracy, allowing customers to make a determination whether or not to proactively replace the X-ray tube with planned downtime.
“That avoids a much worse situation: unplanned downtime,” Koyess said, “Because when it’s not planned, patient scheduling and treatments for that day are disrupted, and patients are inconvenienced and may suffer.”
Remote solutions also address the issue of application training limitations during the era of Covid-19. GE Healthcare offers its Digital Expert solution, which is a new approach to application training with live and customized face-to-face sessions, which are delivered through a mobile tablet that easily connects to the GE system.
Reducing OPEX spending
Although most of the advances happening in the equipment servicing field are driven by digitization, there is one GE Healthcare solution that is not technology focused. It addresses the industry’s drive to shift capital expenses to the operating side of the ledger.
Through a solution called REVIVE, GE Healthcare customers can extend the lifetime of their imaging equipment by deploying the latest upgrades and then embedding the cost of those upgrades into the machine’s service contract.
“Whether we are helping customers address the pressure on capital expenses or leveraging the pandemic-driven embrace of digital solutions,” Koyess said, “the medical imaging equipment service sector is transforming from a repair-when-broken model to one that is focused on optimizing equipment usage while maximizing system uptime.”
“At GE Healthcare, we are doing this by giving customers data-driven insights so that they can make meaningful decisions to improve a range of operational, clinical and financial outcomes.”
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