Scanning like Clockwork in South India
November 14, 2013 | The KGS Scan Centre in the South Indian city of Madurai performs over 100 MRI scans per day at its two sites. Patients come here from 50 neighboring communities. Behind this achievement is its owner’s focus on imaging quality and his innovative workflow strategies.
Text: Swati Prasad
Photos: Arush Mayank
Back in 2002, when Dr. K G Srinivasan was setting up the KGS Scan Centre in the South Indian city of Madurai, his peers thought he was making a big mistake. Srinivasan’s only asset was a small car – a Maruti 800. Understandably, banks found his business plan unviable. But Srinivasan was determined.
He rolled out a scan center with a single slice computed tomography (CT) system and a 0.2 Tesla open magnetic resonance scanner from Siemens. On the first day, the KGS Scan Centre performed 20 MRI examinations and 30 CT scans. The rest, as they say, is history.
Over 100 MRI Scans per Day Record
Today, KGS has two centers in Madurai adjacent to one another and two satellite centers – one in Ramnad (113 kilometers from Madurai), the other in Arakkupottai (50 kilometers from Madurai). All four scan centers have X-ray, CT, MRI, and ultrasound facilities.
The two Madurai centers have achieved a record of performing over 100 MRI scans in a day. Even on a Sunday, MRI examinations can amount to 80. On January 15th 2013, the centers reported 138 MRI examinations.
Smooth Workflows as Key to Success
There are plenty of reasons why KGS is successful. First, the center deploys the latest technology for high quality imaging. Second, Srinivasan pays personal attention to almost every scan. He sits at the multimodality workplace to check the desired image and determine the number of sequences required for quality reporting. And third, despite the rush, the center does not keep patients waiting for long. While the scan is being done, Srinivasan or his assistant calls up the referring physician to align the clinical interpretation with diagnostic findings and reduce scan time per patient. “Today, banks are bending over backwards to lend us money,” says Srinivasan.
Work is Worship
Madurai, also known as the Athens of the East, is the land of temples. For Srinivasan, though, work is worship. “I sleep for only four to five hours. That’s how it’s been since I was a student,” says 45-year-old Srinivasan, who grew up in Madurai and got his MBBS in 1991 from Nagpur. He worked in two private scan centers between 1995 and 2002, before starting his own.
In 2003, within one year of purchasing a Siemens low-field MRI scanner, KGS was reporting 750 MRI examinations a month. Srinivasan wanted to increase volumes even further and decided to run the center from 6:00 am to 2:00 am the following day.
Soon, even the long hours weren’t enough. Therefore, in 2004, Srinivasan decided on a 1.5 Tesla system from Siemens. This was one of the first installations of the system in India. Examination volume went up even further and in the first month, the Madurai center performed 1,600 MRI scans. “We worked from 6:00 am to 4:00 am the next day,” Srinivasan says.
KGS’ Unique Workflow Strategy for MRI Scans
To keep pace with the increasing demand, Srinivasan bought a 1.5 Tesla MAGNETOM Aera in 2011. Again, it was one of the first installations of this system in India. “Today, we perform 60 MRI scans each day on the Aera,” says Srinivasan. This increase in throughput can be credited to the high-quality technology in MAGNETOM Aera. Tim 4G integrated coil technology and Dot (Day optimizing throughput) MRI exam software on the system provide excellent image quality, while helping to improve productivity.
The center had a unique workflow strategy, which was perfected with MAGNETOM Aera. “We prepare three patients at a time in order to minimize the time in between patients,” says Srinivasan. When one patient is inside the bore, the second patient is observing the scan from the outside, while the third one is getting ready. “Everything is well explained and the patients are mentally prepared. This way, there is no claustrophobia inside the gantry,” he adds. This can also be attributed to the 70 cm Open Bore.
The KGS Scan Centre has five radiologists and 18 radiographers. The staff multitasks and works in two shifts – 7:00 am to 4:00 pm and 4:00 pm till the end – which can be as late as 3:00 am. “Only the Siemens systems and I work longer,” says Srinivasan.
The Pride of Madurai
MAGNETOM Avanto and MAGNETOM Aera have put Madurai on the map. Today, clinicians from all across the country, including metropolitan cities like Mumbai and Pune, come to the KGS Scan Centre to observe the two MRI systems and the center’s workflow management.
Both systems have provided benefits for every specialty. “For instance, in neurology, we are able to identify pathologies that can be treated without surgical intervention,” says Srinivasan. Due to the high image quality, the scan center also picks up incidental malignancy.
The center is also famous for investigating arbitrary cases. Often, patients lose vision due to an unknown cause, such as a tumor in the brain. The center does a great deal of academic work for the Aravind Eye Hospitals, the largest institution providing eye care in the world.
Catering for 50 South Indian Communities
Patients come here from adjoining states like Kerala, Andhra, and even from large cities like Chennai. Due to improved air connectivity, many patients fly into Madurai in the morning and go back on the evening flight after undergoing an examination at KGS.
According to Srinivasan, there is huge potential for a high-end, efficient scan center in Madurai. “We are catering for a 150 kilometer radius around Madurai, which includes 50 small towns,” he says.
Srinivasan is now looking at opening more satellite centers and also wants to purchase a new MRI system for Ramnad. “Good quality work is happening in Madurai. But the same quality must also reach the villages of India.”
Swati Prasad is a freelance business journalist based in Delhi. She reports from India for several publications overseas and has worked as a correspondent and editor for The Economic Times, Business Standard, The Indian Express, and Business Today.