Preventative maintenance, specifically a preventative maintenance plan – it’s a term thrown around in the imaging industry all the time. We understand it is considered a best practice to proactively address issues on MRI machinery through preventative maintenance measures, but why? And furthermore, how can having a preventative maintenance service contract benefit your business? At Altima, we pride ourselves on the innovative preventative maintenance plan we offer and deliver to clients both in DFW and around the world, and we’re happy to share some insight into this somewhat ambiguous topic.
Why do I need a preventative maintenance service plan?
Often times, an imaging center is the biggest investment a business owner will ever make. Not only do the machines themselves cost hundreds of thousands of dollars (and sometimes, up to $3 million), but the center itself has to be completely customized to house such sophisticated machinery. By the time the center is built, machinery is brought in, RF shielding is complete, and safeguards are set in place, it is not uncommon for business owners to drop millions of dollars just to get the doors open.
Now, obviously, nobody would own an imaging center unless it was projected to make money, and with the popularity (and cost) of MRIs, many imaging center owners find they made a very smart investment. However, profit margins are directly related to the health of these machines. Things like lower image quality, malfunctions, and machine downtime due to system failure can equate to thousands of dollars in losses, and turning clients away or rescheduling. Factor in the high cost of repairs (or even higher for a full-on replacement) on such massive pieces of machinery, and it’s safe to say the goal should be to never get to the point where you’re scratching your head, wondering what went wrong and waiting for timely repairs.
This is where preventative maintenance comes into play. Preventative Maintenance, or PM for short, is a means to perform regular maintenance on machines so full-blown problems never manifest. Sometimes, a service contract comes with the MRI machine you purchased. If it did not, however, you will need to arrange a PM plan on your own.
Preventative maintenance plans also help centers to maintain accreditation and stay eligible for reimbursement. The American College of Radiology (ACR) is one accrediting agency and generally, they require systems be maintained per OEM standards.
What does preventative maintenance entail and how often do I need it?
When Altima provides preventative maintenance service plans, it usually entails either onsite or remote system monitoring, a combination of tests (diagnostic, performance and mechanical), system calibration, and internal/external cleaning. While there is no one-size-fits-all schedule when delivering preventative maintenance, it’s always wise to follow the OEM instructions on when to do so. This might be every month if you use your machines a lot, or it could be quarterly. Just don’t make the mistake of thinking because a machine is running smoothly with no issues, that it doesn’t need to be serviced. This is the best time for preventative maintenance and will ensure the machine stays in operation and maintains peak performance. After each round of inspections, a field report will be left with the business owner that will detail what was done to the machine, provide instructions on next steps, and contain suggestions for optimal longevity.
Here are a few other vital machine statistics that are addressed on a preventative maintenance plan:
- Cryogen levels
- Helium levels
- Oxygen monitor
- Radiofrequency power output
- Compressor run time and pressure
- Gradient calibration
- Shield temperature voltage
- Trolley assembly
- Blower filter
- Chiller fluid level and valve
- Scanner’s Coldhead and Absorber
How do I sign up for a preventative maintenance service plan?
No matter who you choose for your preventative maintenance plan (of course, we’d love you to choose Altima!), just be sure your service engineer is trained on your specific models. Expertise is key here – after all, you wouldn’t bring your BMW to a Chevy dealership.
Want to chat about your existing PM plan or create a new one? Contact us today!