DR panels are becoming an increasingly affordable option to extend the life of existing analog X-ray equipment and improve its performance. Even so, as with any up-and-coming product, after the tech questions and the pricing questions are answered, questions about the ownership experience arise. We call these the “What ifs” and getting strong answers to them is every bit as important as learning technical spec.
The following are some of the most common questions we get about DR panels in the clinical setting. Check out the answers to learn more about what you can expect after your DR panel is up and running.
What if our network Wi-Fi is down?
The DR panel is connected wirelessly to the workstation and simultaneously to the PACS. If the Wi-Fi network goes down in the clinic, the images will continue to be sent to the workstation and stored there temporarily. When the network Wi-Fi is re-established, the workstation will send the backlog of images along to the PACS. If there is an issue with the Wi-Fi from the DR panel to the workstation, the panel can store images and then the images can be transferred to the workstation via a Cat 5 cable.
Another option is to hardwire the workstation directly to the network eliminating reliance on Wi-Fi to send images to PACS.
What if the workstation crashes?
If the workstation has an issue, the panel features onboard storage for your images while the workstation is being repaired. If the repair is a software issue, the problem can typically be resolved remotely by a service representative, saving time and eliminating the need for an onsite call.
If the issue is more serious, the computer has a reboot key that will restore the software to the most recently saved configuration. While this option will require you to reset some of your customizations, it will minimize downtime versus a traditional service call.
In the most severe circumstances, manufacturer’s warranties on panel workstations can be found as long as three years. Warranties vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, but they offer more comprehensive solutions when other methods won’t suffice.
What if the panel is dropped?
The continued evolution of these products has increased their durability. To that end, several manufacturers have performed drop testing on their DR panels and documented the likelihood of damage in the event of a drop. This information is available on the spec sheets from those manufacturers and might be an important consideration as you shop around for your ideal DR panel.
Many manufacturers also offer drop insurance that covers repairs or replacements for panels that have been dropped. Secondary companies offer drop coverage as well and you may be able to obtain coverage simply by adding the DR panel to your facility’s current insurance coverage. Similar to any other form of insurance, rates and deductibles will vary.
What if the panel needs repair?
Certain manufacturers will send you a loaner panel while your panel is being repaired. This will minimize downtime, so be sure to ask if loaner service is included for any prospective panel you’re considering. Again, manufacturer’s warranties vary and can be as high as three years.
Extensions can be added to warranty plans at the time of purchase. This will add to your upfront costs, however, several years of coverage comes with a certain peace of mind. For facilities that will be using their panel with a mobile unit, moving it more often and over longer distances, this could be especially valuable.
DR panel manufacturers and providers have worked hard to build a support infrastructure for their product. The scenario now is that, with the exception of an outright act of God, there’s a contingency in place for just about every “What if” we can think of.
John Maher is the Product Specialist for X-ray Equipment at Block Imaging. At home, he is a husband, father of two daughters, endurance athlete, and volunteers as a certified athletic trainer.