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Hitachi Healthcare America

MRI upgrade helps small-town practice see significant improvements in quality, productivity


 

Michael Walter | ImagingBiz | May 2020

Prospect, Connecticut, was founded all the way back in 1827, and its citizens take great pride in the city’s gorgeous scenery and deep history. In fact, just one look at Prospect’s motto—“The Best Small Town in Connecticut”—tells you everything you need to know.

Naugatuck Valley Radiology AssociatesThe staff at Naugatuck Valley Radiology Associates (NVRA) has a lot to be proud of as well—they’ve served the area for more than 35 years, offering a wide variety of imaging services at three different locations, and were designated a Diagnostic Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiology.

NVRA is always looking to improve, to provide better patient care than ever, and a key moment in the practice’s history came in 2013 when the decision was made to upgrade its MRI system to Hitachi’s Oasis 1.2T High Field MRI.

“At Naugatuck Valley Radiology, we are committed to delivering the best imaging services possible to our community,” says Maria Benvenuto, BS, RT (R)(CT)(M), NVRA center manager. “We were confident this upgrade would benefit our referring physicians and patients by enhancing the service we provide.”

An easy decision

Going with Hitachi was an easy choice for NVRA. The practice’s legacy system was from Hitachi, and it had been a great working relationship from the very beginning.

“We were confident in choosing Hitachi because of our past relationship and a long list of positive experiences with the company’s technology,” Benvenuto says. “We pride ourselves on customer service, so it has always been of the utmost importance to provide the most current technology. When Hitachi introduced its new high-field open MRI system that could provide high-field efficiency and faster scan times—along with the ability to image smaller parts and breast anatomy—upgrading to the Oasis was a quick, straightforward decision.”

Benvenuto adds that the actual upgrade was quick and efficient. Replacing imaging equipment can be stressful for a practice, disrupting the day-to-day workflow, but “outstanding coordination” kept everything moving at a quick, customer-friendly pace.

One upgrade makes a world of difference

Practically overnight, installing the Oasis made a colossal difference for both NVRA’s specialists and the patients they serve. Perhaps the biggest benefit, Benvenuto says, has been the dramatic improvement in throughput; the scanner offers a number of features that have done wonders for productivity and workflow. And more productive equipment helps NVRA treat a greater number of patients, which translates to a boost in revenue.

RADAR, for instance, is a state-of-the-art technology from Hitachi for reducing motion artifacts that are simply unavoidable with some patients. And RAPID, a parallel imaging technique, makes a direct impact on clinical flexibility and leads to quicker acquisition times. The scanner’s sequence selection is also popular with the practice’s technologists, especially the primeFSE and primeFIR sequences, which reduce metal artifacts and make it easier to produce detailed images near implants.

There are additional features that have led to a better overall patient experience. The scanner’s open design and fully motorized 82-cm patient table are a game-changer for providing comfort to patients who may normally be uncomfortable when undergoing certain MRI imaging procedures.

“The Oasis has allowed us to scan larger patients,” Benvenuto says. “The transmit and receive body coil is a significant advantage and we do not have to turn patients away like with the older scanner, because the Oasis accommodates up to 660 pounds.”  

In addition, VASC-ASL helps specialists perform magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) on patients without the need for a contrast agent and with exceptional image quality. As imaging specialists continue to push for using fewer contrast agents—resorting to them only when absolutely necessary—this is the kind of feature that can help a practice truly deliver high-quality care.

NVRA’s radiologists have all been impressed with the Oasis, praising its ability to push image quality to a whole other level.

“The step up in image quality has been large,” says Bradley G. Leypold, MD, PhD, one of the practice’s 13 experienced radiologists. “This applies to all areas, but it’s especially obvious when dealing with smaller anatomy. For example, wrist MRI scans look very sharp—the intrinsic wrist ligaments are nicely demonstrated.”

Another key group has been consistently impressed by the Oasis: the patients themselves. Benvenuto notes that patients seem more at ease than ever before, often commenting that the imaging experience was not nearly as intense or as stressful as they thought it might be.

“There are numerous patients who experience claustrophobia, having an MRI can be a frightening experience for these patients,” she says. “The Oasis provides these patients a comfortable environment to be properly diagnosed. We consistently hear patients who, upon completion of their exams, voice that they greatly appreciate the accessibility of an open MRI for their imaging needs.”

Satisfied customers

Some seven years later, installing the Oasis stands as a gift that keeps on giving. NVRA’s employees unanimously agree that customer support from Hitachi has been nothing short of spectacular, and Benvenuto says she would recommend Hitachi in a heartbeat.

“We have the upmost confidence in Hitachi’s high-level customer service and support,” Benvenuto says. “They continuously deliver committed support to their customers. They exceed the standard by providing knowledgeable technical and software support teams who are all incredibly easy to work with.”

Paul Masotto, the practice’s executive director, agrees, noting that the Oasis “has significantly enhanced our patient throughput, productivity, and image quality.”

Another way to know that NVRA is satisfied with the Oasis is how the practice highlights the scanner on its website. “Open,” the site reads, putting the text right next to a photo of the scanner. “Comfortable. Like no MRI you’ve experienced.”

As always, pride is big part of life in the “The Best Small Town in Connecticut”—and NVRA certainly seems proud to partner with Hitachi.