At this year's Annual Meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) in Chicago, USA, the separately managed healthcare business of Siemens AG is presenting itself for the first time under its new brand name, Siemens Healthineers. The new name underlines the company's pioneering spirit and its engineering expertise in the healthcare industry. With a new strategic direction, Siemens Healthineers aims to enable healthcare providers around the world to meet their current challenges and to excel in their respective environments. Through products and solutions designed to increase efficiency and to reduce costs, Siemens Healthineers is setting new trends in healthcare together with its customers – working under the motto "Engineering Success. Pioneering Healthcare. Together."
Based on the key requirements expressed by all its main customer groups in radiology, Siemens Healthineers has developed an entirely new platform for computed tomography. It responds to the needs of diverse users and in doing so improves their competitive position. The Somatom go. platform with the Somatom go.Now and Somatom go.Up scanners offers automated and standardized workflows that help users achieve profound clinical results. In addition, the multi-year service packages and corresponding high financial reliability allow users to run their business successfully. The innovative usage concept facilitates more comprehensive patient care, and also gives radiology providers the option of using a highly cost-efficient single-room concept for the first time.
Based on the Somatom go. platform Siemens Healthineers offers two scanner variants: the 32-slice Somatom go.Now is particularly suited to radiology providers who want to establish a new CT department. Somatom go.Up is equipped with a wider detector providing up to 64 slices. Among other benefits, it offers faster scanning, which is especially important for lung imaging – e.g., to screen for cancer. This model is therefore suited to radiologists who want to expand an already successful portfolio.
Today, rising caseloads and growing patient expectations are putting pressure on physicians and clinical staff around the world. "Today, we care for twice as many patients as we did a decade ago," says Professor Michael Uder, MD, Director of the Institute of Radiology at University Hospital Erlangen, Germany, where the first Somatom go.Up scanner was installed. He says that the sharp rise in interventional therapies in particular has led to an enormous increase in workloads. At the same time, shrinking healthcare budgets and declining reimbursements make it hard to invest in the technology needed to give more patients access to state-of-the-art imaging and to keep standards high. "No one is so poor that they should not receive world-class imaging and diagnosis," says K.G. Srinivasan, MD, Managing Director of KGS Scan Center in Madurai, India. In many places, it is also becoming harder and harder to find qualified staff. This is why Dr. Srinivasan and many other physicians around the world are now using teleradiology; it is not uncommon for university hospitals to also provide radiological services for smaller hospitals in their vicinity.
Co-developed with users according to their needs
"In view of these challenges, Siemens Healthineers held interviews and workshops with over 500 radiologists, radiology assistants, CFOs, patients, and referring physicians from a variety of countries. Their aim was to collaboratively identify the key characteristics of an ideal CT scanner," says André Hartung, Head of Computed Tomography at Siemens Healthineers. "The result is a platform that offers high quality standards and responds to the current needs for efficient workflows, and to clinical and financial requirements – whether the users are based in institutes in rural regions of newly industrialized countries, or in radiology centers with a branch network in North America and Europe," says Hartung. "With the Somatom go. platform, we want to help our customers improve their competitive position and to provide a better CT service to their patients."
The Somatom go. platform has an especially innovative way of fulfilling its customers' desire for efficient workflows and a high level of flexibility: It can be controlled via a tablet, which paves the way for an entirely new, mobile workflow. Users can control all routine examinations using just the tablet. The standardized work steps are designed so that users can run the scan with just a few inputs. Automated postprocessing makes it even easier to operate the scanners. This means that even staff with a lower level of training can carry out the examinations, for instance in emergencies during a night shift. The standardization also gives radiologists additional assurance with regard to the diagnostic quality of the images. It helps avoid errors, the need to repeat scans, and thus unnecessary waiting times – and all irrespective of whether they are dealing with an orthopedic or an oncological issue.
At the patient's side
The new usage concept at the heart of Somatom go.Now and Somatom go.Up also offers a whole host of other advantages. Since the scanners can be controlled via a tablet, medical staff no longer has to keep moving between the CT scanner and the control room. Radiographers can thus stay with patients while preparing the scan, which makes the examination experience more pleasant for patients, especially for children. "If a patient feels that someone is close by, it is perceived as better care," says associate professor Matthias May, MD, from the Institute of Radiology at University Hospital Erlangen.
The scanners can be controlled on the move while all computer hardware that was up to now located in the control room have been integrated into the gantry of the scanner. This way, the institutions can benefit from a flexible room concept, a feature that was simply not possible with previous systems. Instead of requiring two or three rooms for the scanner, the control unit, and possibly additional technology, Somatom go. scanners can – if desired – be installed in a single room with a minimum size requirement. With this setup, a shielded niche is enough to protect the radiology staff. This room concept drastically reduces the installation costs and thus makes the Somatom go. platform especially attractive for deployment in emerging markets. However, Professor Uder also sees enormous added value in the flexibility of the new room concept for Germany, as it can cost several hundred thousand euros to convert a single room into a CT room there. "I'd love to be far more flexible with my machines. I want to be able to put them where I need them and not where the building requires me to put them," says Uder.
An all-in-one package that includes far more than just service
Beyond the warranty period, the Somatom go. platform comes with a service package – called Siemens Healthineers Connect Plan – that runs for additional two years, covers many replacement parts, and includes training for the users. The Siemens Healthineers Connect Plan thus gives customers a very good overview of the overall system costs from the outset. In addition, when developing the new Chronon X-ray tube, Siemens Healthineers paid special attention to achieving a long lifespan for this key component, so as to also relieve the financial burden for customers in this area. Innovative remote service also significantly reduces system downtimes, and many upgrades can be installed during normal scanner operation. "If we had a CT system with durable components and less downtime, we would benefit twofold," says Professor Uder.
Aside from the many economic benefits of the Somatom go. platform, the developers at Siemens Healthineers always kept a close eye on the clinically relevant features that are particularly important for many routine applications – and in this case allow users to expand their radiological portfolio. A brand new detector based on the already proven Stellar technology and spectral tin filters, which were previously only available on Siemens Healthineers' high-end scanners, allow users to perform lung imaging at extremely low radiation doses. When it comes to vascular imaging, High Power 80 – another feature from the premium segment – keeps tube voltages extremely low, which helps to reduce dose and minimize iodine contrast.
Somatom go.Now and Somatom go.Up will be available as of second quarter, 2017.
For further information on RSNA, please see the related RSNA 2016 Press Feature.