Case Study | October 13, 2006

Sony FilmStation Helps Innovative Mobile Imaging Business Keep the Wheels of Radiology Turning

The Sony FilmStation dry film imager is the only imager of its kind that can be installed either in the upright vertical position or horizontally.

Medical Imaging Resources is going places — to growing hospitals in need of faster MRI exam turnaround, to busy medical centers that benefit from back-up CT scanners, to facilities awaiting new equipment shipments and to the forefront of today’s rapidly accelerating mobile imaging scene.
“We started with a single mobile unit 15 years ago,” said John Vartanian, president of the Ann Arbor, MI-based mobile service.
A former biomedical engineer and successful entrepreneur, Vartanian is the founder and primary partner in the business. “Today we have over 20 vehicles that bring MRI, CT, cardiac catheterization and single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) cameras to 48 states and Canada,” he added.
Keeping an Eye on Trends
Vartanian said he’s seen numerous equipment trends come and go. He said he believes that one smart choice was outfitting his growing fleet with the high-performance, yet practical and compact Sony FilmStation dry film imager.
“When we got the Sony FilmStation imager, we were literally astonished about how easy it was to use, how small, how dependable — and, most important, how easy Sony was to work with as a company,” he said.
Vartanian pointed out that mobile imaging places a unique set of demands on equipment. “Sony just fits the bill for our mobile installations,” he said.
After purchasing his first FilmStation system, as part of his evolving business plan, the successful entrepreneur began replacing his large, legacy wet imagers with additional Sony devices, eventually outfitting 14 mobile units.
An Innovative Leasing Service
Medical Imaging Resources, as its name suggests, provides temporary solutions for hospitals and centers in the process of buying new equipment, constructing additional space for enhanced services or experiencing a temporary overflow of exams that cannot be handled with their existing equipment, according to the company. Unlike a large number of mobile fleets, mobile units do not move from site to site to provide regularly scheduled services, but are leased by a single location as needed for periods of a week to several years, added the company.
The actual number of exams implemented at each site varies widely. “Some locations are hot beds of activity, while others just use us as a back-up when their existing equipment cannot handle the exam load,” Vartanian said.
Medical Imaging Resources Leasing said customers expect equipment to be easy to use and intuitive. Vartanian is quick to point out that providing a high quality imager, like the Sony FilmStation imager, is an important part of their business plan.
“Naturally, we do see a significant move toward digital image storage and management,” he said. “However, we have to provide options to meet every need, and I honestly believe imagers and hardcopy will always be part of our mobile environment.”
Hard Copy Remains Important
Vartanian said he can’t see a day when dry imagers will vanish from the mobile environment. The bottom line, he said, is a continuing, although somewhat diminished, demand for film.
During these transitional times and in a changing mobile environment, according to Vartanian, the FilmStation imager is proving an excellent choice.
“I think some of the best feedback we receive from clients is no feedback at all,” he said, explaining that the dry imager performs extremely well and fits seamlessly in the mobile environment. “It’s just there when needed — easily, consistently and flawlessly delivering high-quality images.”
A Great Mobile Performer
According to Vartanian, the FilmStation system is well-suited to a mobile environment for a number of reasons. With space at a premium, the imager’s small footprint is an asset. Its flexibility for sitting both flat on a countertop as well as upright underneath a counter allows it to fit into a range of mobile unit layouts.
“The FilmStation imager boasts one of the smallest footprints on the market without compromising performance in the process,” he said. “And the unique choice of vertical or horizontal installation is a breakthrough advantage in mobile unit design. Moreover, the FilmStation system is extremely durable, a must in a mobile environment.”
“With large equipment, we have to use hardening kits that include sizable pads and ratchets for bracing as the mobile unit travels,” Vartanian said. “When reaching its designation, the bracing is removed. Once while traveling, one of our previous large legacy imagers got loose and was thrown around the van, leaving holes in the walls and a trail of damage to our costly vehicle — not to mention the imager itself.”
The lightweight FilmStation system travels well just as it is — unlike previous imagers, says Vartanian. It utilizes a versatile mounting bracket kit that enables vertical or horizontal installation on either a countertop or floor. Once mounted, it is ready to go and extremely durable in a mobile environment. No additional manual bracing is required.
“To date, I have not had a problem with any of our FilmStation imager units,” Vartanian added. “They perform flawlessly day in and day out.”
Replacing a floor-standing imager with the FilmStation system frees up significant space, which can be used for a second workstation, patient changing area or even a sink, according to Vartanian.
With a plug-and-play configuration, the FilmStation imager also supports a changing workspace layout based on clients’ needs and the full range of modalities that a leasing business demands, says Vartanian. “Moreover, its easy interface eliminates any learning curve. Even loading film is simple,” he added.
The Sony FilmStation imager delivers high-resolution prints in 4,096 shades of gray thanks to an innovative print head and blue thermal film specifically engineered for the unit. Automatic calibration provides consistent image quality, while easy access to manual settings allows fine tuning.
An Imager on the Go
Conceding that hard copy output clearly has decreased in volume and importance, Vartanian feels that the costs and demands of a dry imager should be minimized accordingly. Whether in a hospital, clinic or mobile setting, today an imager must be large on performance and small on price and size.
“Sony saw a niche and filled it,” Vartanian said.