A new lease on life for medical imaging systems

How refurbished medical systems can conserve resources, provide access to diagnostic imaging, and contribute to better patient care.

Published on August 5, 2021

Locked within every manufactured product are not only the innovative spirit of its developers but also valuable resources, raw materials, and work. That is why it is so important to keep products for as long as possible – and medical systems are no exception. Yet, technological and medical progress – especially in combination – sometimes require customers to invest in new equipment in order to face the growing challenges of daily hospital routine. But this certainly does not have to mean the end of life for used devices. Under certain conditions, Siemens Healthineers will buy them back, breathe new life into them, and return them to the market at a lower price. This is not only good for our resources but also offers access to affordable high-quality systems in less wealthy regions.

Techiman, a relatively small regional capital, is located on Ghana’s main south-north axis.
<p>The Holy Family Hospital in Techiman treats around 10,000 such cases each year. "Many of them have suffered severe trauma injuries," says hospital manager Christopher Akanbobnaab. But it is these serious cases above all that could not be diagnosed in Techiman until recently. They had to be referred to the hospital in Kumasi in the south of the country – a three-hour journey that many patients did not survive. Those who did survive and could be treated were often left with large debts due to the high costs of ambulance transportation. A solution had to be found. <br><br>In 2017, with the financial support and active involvement of the German Rotary Volunteer Doctors (GRVD), various Rotary Chapters and Rotary Germany, and the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, the hospital built a new emergency department with improved infrastructure and a new intensive care unit. The radiology department was upgraded a few months later and received a SOMATOM Emotion 16 eco, a 16-slice Computed Tomography (CT) scanner, a vital piece of equipment for comprehensive diagnosis so that patients can be given the appropriate treatment.<br><br> This improved emergency infrastructure now makes it possible to treat many more patients quickly and locally. Such a scanner is a large investment, particularly for smaller hospitals. This computed tomography scanner, however, is part of a special product portfolio of Siemens Healthineers:<a href="" class=""> the ecoline portfolio</a>, which combines state-of-the-art technology with systems that have already been in use. <br></p>
The SOMATOM Emotion 16 eco is a refurbished computed tomography scanner that looks and performs like new. Devices that have been in use are bought back from customers under specific conditions and comprehensively refurbished. They can then be offered to new customers as ecoline systems. Refurbishment is performed by industrial electronics engineer Stefanie Schmidt and her colleagues. When a pre-owned device returns to the factory, she examines it thoroughly, decides which components can be reused, and orders spare parts based on the customer order.<br><br> It is then thoroughly overhauled. "In all probability, most of the parts can be directly reused; for example, the gantry frame. This is the metal ring inside the CT scanner on which all the components are mounted and on which the integrated X-ray tube rotates around the patient during scanning. Because that doesn't apply to all spare parts of course, we definitely want to use those that do have a long service life for their full lifetime," explains Schmidt. <br><br>As soon as a customer order for a refurbished system arrives, the returned scanner is first cleaned and disinfected and then taken to the factory for refurbishment. The systems are subjected to preliminary and final inspection and have to pass through the same stages as new devices.
"I think it's excellent," says Schmidt, "for me, this is also about the environment. All raw materials used in the system are valuable, so we should use existing resources sparingly. That is why we always look for ways of reusing or recycling components."
Stefanie Schmidt from Siemens Healthineers takes care of the refurbishment of medical imaging systems.
Many of the components and materials can be used again – either in the same device that is being refurbished for a new customer or in other systems. Reused components and parts are also refurbished whenever necessary. "Anything that cannot be reused is recycled. This material cycle is equally beneficial to our customers, their patients, and the environment."
<p>"Refurbished devices are like new," explains Verena Schön, head of the Installed Base Development Business Line. "With our competitively priced offering, we can supply high-quality medical engineering products to less wealthy regions." Ultimately, that benefits the patient. <br><br>This circular economy approach makes careful management of resources possible, allowing us to work both economically and ecologically. This is also relevant to the Holy Family Hospital in Ghana. As a result of the refurbishment of the CT system installed there, around 1,405 kilograms of material – about 76 percent of the overall weight of the device – could be reused, and 18,283 kilograms of CO2 saved.<sup>1</sup> This corresponds roughly to a 90,000-kilometer car journey. </p>
The 5-step Quality Process of Siemens Healthineers ecoline systems