- Better mobility and image quality are impressing clinicians, although wireless connectivity satisfaction lags.
The demand for mobile x-ray is on the rise as radiology and PACS provider experts embrace key features like mobility, image quality, wireless connectivity, and battery life. This is one of several key findings in the recent KLAS study Mobile Digital X-ray 2012: Moving in the Right Direction. The newest generation of mobile x-ray units is smaller, sleeker, and more mobile than ever before. Despite their smaller size and easier maneuverability, the overall image quality is still improving as well. This is leading to higher mobile volumes in areas of the hospital such as the ED, ICU, and OR. Specific Areas in the Hospital where Volumes Are Increasing "Technology and functionality are driving mobile x-ray success and meeting providers' expectations," said KLAS strategic operations director, Kirk Ising, who authored this report.
"There are a few kinks to work out that currently are mostly annoyances. However, those annoyances may become deal breakers if vendors take too long addressing them because of their cost and budgetary impacts." The areas where providers say units have the most room to improve are wireless connectivity and battery life. With wireless connectivity, some of the difficulty may lie with the hospital network infrastructure rather than simply the mobile x-ray unit itself. Still, providers would like vendors to be more proactive by owning the process of fixing wireless connectivity problems rather than solely placing the blame on the hospital's wireless network.
SHIMADZU, who performs extremely well overall, still needs to work through some connectivity issues. Transferring images wirelessly can be slow according to customers. Canon users find that their x-ray units can freeze up while trying to transfer images and require a system reboot. Fuji customers are happiest with their wireless connectivity, reporting fewer hiccups with the system. And GE receives mixed reviews. Although not yet a deal breaker, battery life problems frustrate providers. In some cases, batteries are dying after less than a year after purchasing the system.
While most Fuji and SHIMADZU customers feel their units' battery life is meeting expectations, that is not a unanimous opinion. For those updating their mobile x-ray fleet, retrofitting an existing analog unit with a digital detector is a viable option. There can be considerable cost savings by going that route, and in this study, overall performance is comparable between retrofitted and fully digital systems.
Retrofitted systems, like the Carestream DRX Mobile Retrofit and the Canon CXDI-70C, may be good options for providers who are wondering where to start with mobile x-ray. Findings for Agfa and Philips are also included in this report. To learn more about the mobile digital x-ray market and the vendors in this study, the Mobile Digital X-ray 2012: Moving in the Right Direction report is available to healthcare providers online for a significant discount.
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