BLOG: Reliability and Customer Service Key to Injector Uptime and CT Department Workflow
In a busy hospital imaging department, maintaining high device uptime levels is critical. If an injector malfunctions or needs repair, it can affect the patient schedule, causing a ripple effect of delays across the organization. While these device malfunctions should be rare, they are inevitable in a high-use department. When they do occur, a strong relationship with the device supplier and service department is critical to repairing the device, minimizing downtime and maintaining reliability.
At NYU’s Langone Health, the two CT scanners on the main campus are used to perform about 140 patient exams a day — all in less than 12 hours. The radiology department uses Bracco’s Empower CTA injector system and has a been a Bracco customer for more than 15 years. They rely on the efficiency of the Empower CTA system to support their high throughput department.
“It’s a 10 minute workflow,” said Cicil Chamakalayi, assistant director of CT, US and X-Ray Services for NYU Langone Health. “We need patients in and out of the room in that amount of time. So that’s loading the injector, getting the patient on the scanner, performing the scan, taking them off and cleaning the room. All within 10 minutes. Having equipment that is highly reliable is probably of the highest priority.”
The CT department at UCLA Health System provides 24-hour support and imaging for trauma patients. Lead CT technologist Amelia Patterson agrees with the importance of quick and reliable service in a busy department.
“When you’re in a facility where your equipment is used constantly, service is really important,” Patterson said. And when a device malfunctions, “we want the service to be done right away — whatever needs to be fixed — because we are a trauma center.”
When an issue arises, such an injector not communicating or loading properly, Patterson says the first step is to contact their service representative for assistance. They will troubleshoot the error message over the phone, and if necessary, schedule a prompt service visit. Patterson said their Bracco service reps are sensitive to the department’s full schedule, even if that means the technician must arrive before the earliest appointment of the day.
“They’re very flexible,” Patterson said. “We do have a lot of patients starting at 6:30, or even 6 a.m., but they manage to come to do the work.”
Bracco offers customers silver and gold level service agreement plans for their Empower CTA devices. Depending on which level the customer chooses, this service agreement includes priority next day service, loaner equipment during downtimes, 24/7 call center support and annual maintenance.
“Knowing that we can call our service rep or our service engineer and have them come on site as soon as possible and have the piece of equipment back up and running next day, if not the same day, I think is vital to our workflow here,” Chamakalayi said.
Bracco service engineers also perform routine preventive maintenance to ensure devices are performing appropriately and to replace or repair any parts that may be wearing out due to normal use. The injectors are programmed to notify technicians via a pop-up alert when it’s time for routine service. A service engineer will then work to schedule the preventive maintenance for at a time that accommodates the department’s busy schedule. In most cases, the engineer will anticipate what specific elements will need replacement and will come prepared with the appropriate parts.
"They’ll run the machine through some tests and they’ll replace parts that need to get replaced,” said Bernard Assadourian, CT quality and safety manager at NYU Langone Health. “As far as the service people, they’ve been really reliable. They listen when we have a problem. And they’re knowledgeable about what they’re doing.“
Through 2019, Bracco’s contract services had an uptime of 99.2%. “The product is reliable; we rarely call for service,” said Mabel Okyere, Lead CT Technologist for NYU Langone Health. “The last six months or a year, we’ve called once or twice. That’s very good because we use it a lot.” When they do need to call, the service reps are readily accessible and reliable.
“We have a really personal relationship with them,” Okyere said. “We call them and they respond to you right away.”
In addition to these on-the-ground services, Bracco recently launched a remote, virtual-based service solution. The program, called HelpLightning, provides a merged reality environment to provide technical support via combined video streams — one from a remote expert and one from the onsite technician. In this collaborative environment, the expert can virtually touch what the customer is working on. In many cases, this virtual hands-on approach minimizes downtime to less than 10 minutes.
Bracco’s commitment to quality service recently earned them the NorthFace ScoreBoard award for excellence in customer service, as rated by their customers. The award, from the Customer Relationship Management Institute (CRMI) and Market Intelligence International (Marketii), measures customer satisfaction with services on a 5-point scale (or an equivalent rating system) in such categories as technical support, field service, customer service, account management, professional services and other customer facing functions. Bracco’s injector service achieved a 4.0 or above out of a possible 5.0 or an equivalent rating system over the entire year.
“Service is excellent; no question about that,” Patterson said. “I’ve seen a lot of reps and specialists come from Bracco. It’s a good company. Good people.”
Click here to find your local Bracco representative.
Editor’s note: This blog is part-one of a two-part series on service and support.