Predictive maintenance among the cancer patient’s best friends
Elekta IntelliMax earns company the 2019 Technology Services Industry Association STAR award
“People ask me to predict the future, when all I want to do is prevent it.”
Individuals waiting for – or even right in the middle of – a radiotherapy session to treat their cancer likely have other things on their mind than the possibility their therapy could be delayed or stopped due to equipment malfunction. But with any sophisticated machine that relies on software and/or moving parts, the chance that the linear accelerator and associated systems will suffer a functional issue is always lurking.
Fortunately for patients receiving treatment in a center that uses Elekta technology, the company’s IntelliMax® predictive maintenance solution is standing guard, always available, always ready to pinpoint linac or other system issues that could disrupt the patient’s timely treatment. This advance warning enables Elekta service personnel to resolve the issue before the customer even knows about it.
It was this ability of IntelliMax to predict issues and enable proactive resolution – resulting in thousands of hours of avoided downtime – that contributed significantly to Elekta winning the 2019 Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA) STAR Award for Best Practice in Field Service. The competition was intense, a field representing 80 percent of Fortune 100 technology firms, 35,000 technology and services leaders and over 65 participating countries. Finalists included Dell, Cisco Systems, Hewlett Packard and Microsoft.
IntelliMax is part of Elekta Care™ Service.
“In 2019 – among the 80 percent of our customers connected with IntelliMax globally – the results were over 70,000 hours of clinical downtime avoided and more than 210,000 patient treatments kept on schedule.”
“Our on-site Elekta service engineers, support agents and technicians, backed up by IntelliMax, are able to provide 24-7 support for customers and maximize their clinical availability, reducing negative impacts on patients,” says Paul Bergström, Executive Vice President, Global Service. “In 2019 – among the 80 percent of our customers connected with IntelliMax globally – the results were over 70,000 hours of clinical downtime avoided and more than 210,000 patient treatments kept on schedule.”
IntelliMax in action
IntelliMax enables real-time, remote monitoring of system data of the customer’s Elekta devices via a secure connection to the clinic’s network. IntelliMax harnesses industry-leading artificial intelligence (AI), proprietary algorithms, machine learning and deep learning techniques to analyze multiple data points to predict when a system is likely to experience functional issues.
When a system component starts to degrade or requires recalibration, an alert is sent through the secure connection to a regional Elekta Care Support Center. Then, a support agent remotely accesses the customer system and “drills” down to identify the source of the issue.
The case is either resolved remotely or, when required, an Elekta service engineer visits the site and schedules a planned system downtime to conduct on-site proactive maintenance.
Over 80 percent of Elekta’s linear accelerators globally are connected to IntelliMax. IntelliMax actively monitors or enables remote viewing of many linac system areas, including the collimator assembly, RF system, Agility and all beam-limiting devices, beam arm components, iViewGT, XVI system and vacuum system.
Help for far-flung centers
Baldev Jhita is Elekta’s Regional Service Manager for the Pacific region of the United States, a territory covering thousands of square miles of the Pacific coast and including Alaska and Hawaii. The ability to remotely connect with every one of these linacs, to “drill” down and isolate an issue and develop an action plan, is a crucial benefit of IntelliMax when on-site help would be hours away by car or plane.
“For us to connect immediately and look at the machine and see what’s going on – then order the replacement part and schedule planned downtime is a huge deal for field service.”
“For us to connect immediately and look at the machine and see what’s going on – then order the replacement part and schedule planned downtime is a huge deal for field service,” he says.
Among the most far-flung linacs is a machine in Hawaii that was experiencing an inexplicable fault, the cause of which two on-site specialists were having challenges identifying. IntelliMax secure connections to that linac enabled Elekta service personnel to “swarm” the system from thousands of miles away.
“In addition to on-site personnel, I connected remotely, another specialist connected remotely, and then we had a service technician at the UK Crawley factory remoting in from 7,000 miles away,” he recalls. “So, we five people working the issue, three of whom were oceans apart. The Crawley specialist discovered what the fault was and we were able to take it from there and fix it remotely. It was incredible.”
Remote IntelliMax support for software
IntelliMax doesn’t just help identify hardware issues, it also is now available for Monaco® treatment planning and MOSAIQ® Oncology Information System. For MOSAIQ, in particular, challenges can arise due to centers’ need to acquire and store massive amounts of radiotherapy data, or issues involving the DICOM Communication Module.
“Many customers don’t know they’re running out of disk space on their servers, but once they fill up there’s no way to get new images into MOSAIQ,” says Alex Becerrill, OIS Support Specialist at Atlanta’s Remote Control Center. “Once IntelliMax generates a predictive case for a particular site that is close to maxing out their disk space, I can remotely access the application servers and clear out some unnecessary data. It could be anywhere from 60 to 500 gigabytes of data. I then can inform the customer’s IT manager how much time I’ve bought them, whether it’s three months or a year depending on how much space I’ve freed up. If they don’t have MOSAIQ Data Director, I often recommend they acquire that solution to expand their drive space.”
Another example is when DICOM loses network connectivity and is unable to save images and data to the planning system or linac, causing a bottleneck in the workflow. Becerrill will get an email alert from IntelliMax indicating that the center’s DICOM is down.
“I have the ability to restart DICOM with a simple click – this is all within a minute or two of me getting the alert.”
“The alert gives me a link directly to the IntelliMax device where the alert is warning that DICOM has crashed,” he explains. “From there, I have the ability to restart DICOM with a simple click – this is all within a minute or two of me getting the alert. After about five minutes to ensure that DICOM connectivity is stable, I just email the customer and tell them that DICOM is back up and running.”
Becerrill estimates that by virtue of IntelliMax connections to Elekta software, support agents are able to resolve 98 percent of issues remotely.
“As the need for cancer treatment continues to increase, so will the need for us to help our customers be productive and deliver treatments according to their patient’s treatment schedule,” Bergström adds. “In that sense, IntelliMax really is one of the cancer patient’s best friends.”
To learn more about Elekta Care, click here.
|IntelliMax Remote Services connectivity to customer devices is included in all applicable Elekta installations. IntelliMax Proactive and Predictive support is available for Elekta Care Gold and Platinum Support Agreement customers.|