The Newest and Coolest in Imaging Technology|
An Exciting Partnership Brings a Hospital Some Dazzling New Equipment
Westchester Medical Center has installed the most advanced imaging system that is available for clinical care. It's called a 256-slice computed tomography (CT) scanner, and it's one of only 25 in the United States and the first of its kind in the Hudson Valley.
Dramatically improving diagnoses
This scanner brings with it dramatic advances in diagnosing diseases, particularly heart disease. With four times the capacity of the previous generation of scanners, it can take 256 images, or slices, of a 3-inch-wide body part, creating a three-dimensional picture in less than a third of a second. A full-body scan—images of everything, from head to toe—can be acquired in about 10 seconds.
"The new scanner represents a profound change in healthcare, allowing us to do imaging that five years ago was absolutely impossible," says Zvi Lefkovitz, M.D., the medical center's new Chair of Radiology. "Historically, you couldn't freeze-frame the heart. Now, because the 256-slice scanner allows us to image a moving target, we can get a clear view of coronary anatomy in a noninvasive way."
Besides imaging the heart, adds the doctor, the new tool can detect a clot in a pulmonary artery or an aneurysm in the aorta. And it does "exquisite imaging of the brain for stroke diagnoses," he says. The scanner also cuts the radiation dose required by up to 80 percent compared with a standard 64-slice CT scanner, so it makes the scanning process safer as well as dramatically improving its effectiveness.
"This tool puts Westchester at the absolute forefront of imaging in the country," says Dr. Lefkovitz.
A special partnership
The scanner is just one of many new, exciting medical devices installed at Westchester in the past two years through a special partnership with Philips Medical Systems, which specializes in products on the cutting edge of healthcare technology. Westchester and Philips (which has research and development offices in Briarcliff) signed a Strategic Business Alliance, a five-year agreement, in 2007.
For the medical center and its patients, the arrangement puts the most advanced technology on site, all of it customized to meet Westchester's specific goals and needs. For Philips, it creates a working environment to introduce newly developed technologies and to showcase the company's newest and coolest equipment to other potential clients.
"It's exactly what we want a partnership to be," says Donna Wrinkle, Strategic Business Manager, Philips Medical Systems. "It helps both partners meet their goals." Arthur R. Bartosch, Westchester's Director of Biomedical Engineering Services, and his staff of 14 are in charge of purchasing, installing and maintaining all of the equipment the medical center uses to provide healthcare.
Upgrades throughout the medical center
"The past 24 months have been pretty intense," he admits. Under the initiative, the Biomed team, as it's known, has been upgrading nearly every medical device on the campus, from bedside monitors and nurse-call systems to robotic surgical devices and neonatal incubators.
"It's challenging, but exciting," he says. "Westchester Medical Center is assuring that it is a leader. We handle the most complex cases in the region, and we require the technology and support to make that happen."
A new kind of synergy
Agreements between manufacturers and medical centers are becoming more common around the country, says Wrinkle. Bartosch explains why. "This arrangement helps to create synergy among the different departments so that their systems can communicate well. It brings the medical center's whole electronic world together."
Bartosch describes the new electrocardiogram (EKG) system as an example. The current system assures that an EKG taken, say, in the emergency room need not be uploaded through a phone line to be sent to machines in other parts of the hospital so it can be downloaded and read. Instead, all the EKGs are integrated wirelessly. The results can be seen and read simultaneously in any area of the hospital. In addition, the doctor can upload past EKG results to review a patient's history.
"You have one EKG system that follows you throughout your hospital stay, from ER to recovery to discharge," Bartosch says.
Wireless patient monitors are another example. "We used to have beds that were hard-wired," Bartosch explains. "If the patient needed a monitor, he had to go to a monitored bed. Now we can bring the monitor to the patient rather than the patient to the monitor—thus reducing the burden on housekeeping and support services and cutting paperwork. It makes everything simpler for everyone. And the beauty of this equipment is that the software is upgradable, so in the future we won't be behind the technology curve."
A leader to peers
Other hospitals have even taken note of Westchester's technological improvements. "We have had at least two other facilities come onsite to see what value Philips has brought the institution," he says.
"We look to Philips to help us stay state-of-the-art," Bartosch adds, noting that the relationship may extend beyond medical systems to include flat-panel televisions, lighting systems and radiofrequency tracking programs.
"Both partners have the same vision—to bring the best technology to the medical center to care for our patients," he says.