If you really want to know how a scanner is performing, talk to the technologist. That’s exactly what ImagingBiz did in order to find out how Parkview Medical Center in Pueblo, Colo., is making out with the Hitachi Oasis Open High-Field 1.2T system it installed in its 350-bed main hospital two and a half years ago. Angelo Valdez, a Parkview radiologic technologist for 16 years, took our questions.
Q. What put you in the market for a new MR system three years ago?
Valdez: We already had a 1.5T closed-bore scanner, but our MR volume was just increasing to the point where we needed a second magnet in the hospital. The room adjacent to the 1.5 was vacant. It used to house a CT scanner, and it had been sitting there unused for about five years. So we needed a new MR and, with the demographics here in Pueblo, we wanted an open system, mainly because we serve a population that has a high proportion of patients who would be considered bariatric.
Q. Did you look at a number of different systems?
Valdez: We did. We actually considered a handful of them, but we only did site reviews on the Hitachi and [one other]. Our senior leadership had decided that open was going to be the only way we needed to go. They did not want to look at any other wide bores or ovals or any other configuration.
Q. How did you come to settle on the open high-field 1.2T Oasis?
Valdez: Several of us went to California and did an on-site visit at a radiology practice that had the Oasis installed and was very knowledgeable. Our group included a Parkview radiologist, the director of our department and the VP in charge of our area.
For me, the operating platform was one of the big decision points. I really liked the operating platform on the Oasis. The other thing was the coil selection that Hitachi had. There were more options for bigger patients, and some of the other coils were less confining, which is important for claustrophobic patients. Plus I liked the table itself. It was more user-friendly for getting patients on and off the table than anything else we had seen.
Q. After 2½ years of use, what do you like best about the Oasis?
Valdez: It’s still the operating platform, the software. It allows us to very easily manipulate pictures and jump from screen to screen, and it’s gotten even easier since we’ve had upgrades. It seems like Hitachi has worked on it constantly to make it better.
Q. Has your department been happy with the interoperability between the Oasis and your PACS?
Valdez: I don’t deal directly with that, but I know that we haven’t had any major problems. And from our end, the technologists’ end, things like getting the right IP address so that we can just start sending—all of that has been really easy. And actually our PACS is a GE product, and there have been no problems despite the different vendors.
Q. What have you noticed about volume and patient satisfaction?
Valdez: During my shift, a day shift, about 90% of our volume on this machine is outpatient. And I know we’re not losing many patients to other choices because I’m always maxed out on this machine. Patients are always requesting it. They are really not going anywhere else. They really will wait for it.
One thing that’s amazing about that is, we have done zero marketing. No social media, nothing. It’s just word of mouth, and we’re running through this machine 15 to 18 patients per day.
Our closed scanner has a higher rate of refusal, due mainly to claustrophobia. We’ve had a high rate of patients who just did not fit in the closed bore. Back before we got the open, we averaged probably one a day unable to fit in the closed bore magnet. That’s quite significant.
Q. How wide an area do your referring physicians span?
Valdez: We’re getting patients from 100 miles or more away in multiple directions. We’ve partnered with quite a few outlying hospitals and clinics, and we have doctors referring to us from all of Southern Colorado, Northern New Mexico and we even get some from the western plains of Kansas.
Q. Have you been measuring patient satisfaction?
Valdez: We don’t really have them fill out surveys as far as on the machines, just on how well they were treated and that kind of thing. But we have had patients who were scanned on the open MRI and requested that every time they need to come back, they be scanned on that machine again.
There are certain tests like a knee or a foot that we do on the closed magnet, and the rest of the patient’s body is still entirely outside of it.