MRI Preventative Maintenance is Necessary to Reduce Problems Down the Road

Most MRI systems are large, intricate machines requiring complicated and expensive installation. If anything goes wrong with your MRI system, there’s a good chance the repair costs will be quite high, especially if certain parts need to be replaced. Not only could this hurt the bottom line of your medical facility, but it could render the MRI unusable until it’s properly fixed, potentially forcing you to send patients in need of an MRI to another facility,delay your ability to diagnose your patients, and negatively impact your revenue. 

You will want to do everything possible to protect your investment and minimize any MRI downtime due to the need for repairs. It’s why MRI preventative maintenance is so important.


What is MRI Preventative Maintenance?

MRI preventative maintenance will help to keep your MRI system in proper working condition. It can help keep problems from developing due to regular use and preventing potentially high repair costs. A preventative maintenance service will generally include internal and external cleaning, mechanical tests, diagnostic tests, performance tests, and system calibration. 

Some of the more specific tasks typically completed as part of a general MRI preventative maintenance service include:

  • Inspecting and recording the MRI’s cryogen levels
  • Recording the compressor run time and pressure
  • Recording the shield temperature voltage
  • Performing head signal-to-noise ratio (SNR)
  • Performing left ventricular (LV) gradient shim
  • Inspecting and adjusting the radiofrequency (RF) power output
  • Inspecting the operation of the oxygen monitor
  • Inspecting the gradient calibration
  • Inspecting the trolley assembly
  • Inspecting the table drive clutch set screws
  • Inspecting the blower filter
  • Inspecting the chiller fluid level and valve
  • Inspecting the scanner’s coldhead and adsorber
  • Performing a rotational surface coil test
  • Checking the operation of the workspace fans, intakes, and monitor
  • Cleaning the workspace fans, intakes, and monitor

How often you should schedule preventative MRI maintenance varies. You should complete PM’s per the OEM recommendation, which is typically quarterly. Some may require every two months. The more you use your MRI system, the more often you should have it inspected.


Why Do You Need It?

You might be tempted to forego regular check-ups if your MRI system seems to be functioning just fine. However, this is a bad idea, especially if your facility regularly uses your MRI system. Preventative maintenance is meant to help prevent potential problems from developing in the first place. There are many reasons why you should sign up for a preventative MRI maintenance plan. 


Maintain Accreditation & Eligibility for Reimbursement

One reason to perform PM’s as per the OEM recommendation is to maintain accreditation (i.e. ACR) and maintain eligibility for reimbursement. CMS and private payers require that healthcare providers be accredited to be eligible for reimbursement. ACR and other accrediting agencies requires that systems be maintained according to OEM specifications, which includes PM frequency.


Protect Your Investment

MRI systems are investments of hundreds of thousands of dollars depending on the type of MRI and the quality of the system, and are expensive to install and to maintain. The last thing you want is for your MRI system to break down due to a lack of maintenance service, requiring you to pay for expensive repairs or, even worse, replacement. 

If you were to buy a brand new car, you would make it a priority to bring it in for a regular inspection to ensure that it not only stays in good condition but that it will last as long as possible. You wouldn’t want to replace your brand new car within just a few years of having bought it. The same goes for an MRI system. The better you care for it, the fewer issues it will likely experience in the future. This will help to extend its lifespan for many years and avoid premature replacement costs..

Avoid Downtime

If something goes wrong with your MRI you won’t be able to use it. You certainly don’t want to risk the safety of your patients, and the accuracy of its diagnostic images may be affected. The MRI system will need to be shut down until it can be properly inspected and repaired. This downtime can disrupt the schedule of your facility since you will have to either delay the MRI appointments of your patients or refer them to another facility. In smaller communities, your patients may not have the option of going to another facility and will have to just wait. Besides the fact that this can be incredibly frustrating for your patients, it can be detrimental not to have access to an MRI. MRI systems assist in making more accurate diagnoses, allowing doctors to treat patients more effectively. 


Meet Regulations

There are a lot of regulations concerning the use of an MRI. Many of these regulations concern the operators of your MRI system to ensure patient safety. For example, all operators must be accredited by an officially recognized organization such as the ACR (American College of Radiology). However, every state has its own regulations concerning MRI use as well. It’s important to know what these regulations are as regular preventative maintenance may be necessary to stay in compliance with local laws.


Who Does The Maintenance?

Service providers offering MRI preventative maintenance plans include two main options: manufacturer service plans and third party service plans.


Manufacturers Service

Many manufacturers include preventative maintenance as part of their service contract; but take a close look at your service contract to see what’s included and what isn’t. In some cases, preventative maintenance is not included, which means you will need to arrange it on your own. In other cases, preventative maintenance may only be provided as a service for a specific amount of time following your purchase.

When investing in a new MRI system, compare service contracts when comparing manufacturers. It’s usually a better idea to find a manufacturer that offers a comprehensive service plan that includes preventative maintenance than one that doesn’t. 


ISO’s or 3rd Party Service Providers

With healthcare institutions of all sizes facing economic pressures, ISO’s offer a new alternative.  For years, healthcare institutions have paid a premium to OEMs because they thought it was the only way to guarantee product quality and expert support. Now you can look for an ISO that provides hospitals and medical imaging centers with a more cost effective way to provide top quality services to their customers. This means healthcare providers from large hospitals to small imaging centers can confidently choose maintenance services as though they were buying direct from the OEM.

When choosing a service provider, inquire about your options concerning how often you can schedule preventative maintenance, what kind of accreditations they have, and about their repair and replacement services. Find an ISO that offers customers responsive 24/7 technical support via remote monitoring to diagnose problems and minimize downtime for your MRI systems. Another indicator of quality service is maintaining the highest level of ISO 13485 certification. 


Choose The Right Service Plan

If you’ve invested in an MRI system, protect that investment and limit any potential issues that might occur by scheduling regularly planned preventative MRI maintenance service. By choosing a service plan that includes preventative maintenance, you’ll help to keep your MRI up and running all year long.