KLAS: Coils + comfort drive MR market

MR satisfaction scores are narrowly clustered, with Philips Healthcare's technology edging out the competition. However, there are key differences are in the details, according to recent findings from market healthcare research firm KLAS in its report "MRI 2012: Broadening Your Field of View."

Philips sprinted from last place in the 2011 KLAS MRI report with the Achieva 1.5T MR to first place in 2012 with its newly ranked Ingenia 1.5T MR scanner. The wide-bore system received an overall score of 92.2 (out of 100). Digital coils offer a better upgrade path and better images with less noise, according to KLAS.

"Philips was able to leapfrog other vendors in the study with the Ingenia in part due to their new coils system. Providers in this study identified coils as an area where they would like to see more development," said Kirk Ising, author of the report and strategic operations director at KLAS.

GE Healthcare’s Optima MR 450W 1.5T nabbed second place with a score of 89.4. GE's GEM coils are their first generation of integrated coils, which most customers like, but they feel that extremity coils need more development, according to KLAS. Customers cited excellent image quality that competes with 3T images. GE and Philips led the breast imaging segment.

Hitachi Medical Systems’ Echelon 1.5T earned a score of 88.4. This system does not have integrated coils, but the new Echelon Oval scanner, which is not yet rated by KLAS, has that functionality. Customers like Hitachi’s feet-first imaging.

Siemens Healthcare's Magnetom Aera 1.5T MR scored 87. Customers like Siemens and Philips body coils, which make body scanning faster and yields better image quality, according to KLAS. Siemens features optional lighting and ambiance to help patients relax.

Toshiba America Medical Systems rounded out the rankings with a score of 85.8 for its Vantage Titan 1.5T MR. Customers cited its quietness, but slower scanning speeds can cause issues with patient comfort and image quality, according to KLAS.

Patient comfort was also top of mind for providers that participated in this study. Providers said that faster scan speeds (31 percent) were the number-one feature that improved patient satisfaction, followed by quieter scanners (22 percent), better lighting (19 percent), airflow improvements (16 percent) and shorter bore length (16 percent).

Providers and vendors can learn more about the report at www.KLASresearch.com.