These are incredibly difficult times for hospitals and imaging entities, which are trying to maximize the life of their [existing equipment],” said Michael Zinchini, national director of sales and marketing for enterprise healthcare at Konica Minolta Medical Imaging, Wayne, NJ. He notes that health care organizations also are looking for workflow efficiencies and Konica Minolta’s digital radiography (DR) systems can help them achieve that goal.

Zinchini was talking about the recent announcement that Konica Minolta had been awarded a 3-year contracted supplier group purchasing agreement for DR systems starting October 1, 2012, with Premier healthcare alliance, one of the leading health care purchasing networks in the United States.

According to Konica Minolta, the contract includes the wireless Aero DR—both the 14 x 17 and 17 x 17 plates—the Aero DR portable upgrade kit, and the Aero DR X70 x-ray systems with tilting wall stand and table bucky.

“We are honored to be awarded a DR-contracted supplier agreement [with] Premier, an organization we have enjoyed a highly valued relationship with for years,” said Zinchini. “Our excellent reputation in the industry for high image quality, reliability, ease of use, and low total cost of ownership is aligned very well with the needs of this world-class organization. We look forward to building upon our relationship by continuing to serve the needs of Premier members with our full array of digital imaging products, helping them deliver the highest levels of quality health care to their patients.”

In addition to the need for workflow efficiencies and the need to manage costs, Zinchini says that “the overarching goal” for health care organizations is to provide “the highest quality images at the lowest dose,” a goal Konica Minolta says its Aero DR imaging detector achieves.

According to Konica Minolta, Aero DR provides high image quality and lower doses, easy workflow and reliability, and is lightweight and durable.

Zinchini, who notes that the company’s relationships with group purchasing organizations are “incredibly important,” says the contract means Konica Minolta is extending its partnership with Premier—beyond its current contract for CR solutions. The new DR systems contract translates into significant financial savings and affordable care for health care organizations and the patients they serve, he says.

According to Zinchini, Konica Minolta is the only company that manufactures the wireless CsI 17 x 17 panels, which are helpful for patients receiving care and the workflow of the technologists who help provide that care. With these panels, technologists “don’t have to rotate the panel or have part of the anatomy [fall outside the imaging area],” he said.

The wireless panels run on their own internal power supply, according to Zinchini, who notes that this is important for safety reasons. “These panels are in contact with patients. Lithium batteries [which are used in other DR solutions] can overheat,” said Zinchini. He notes that the power source in the company’s wireless panels never needs to be replaced, which means “[lower] operational costs” and “no need to replace batteries over time,” he said.

According to the company, its DR solution is further differentiated by the fact that the panels don’t have a cutout for a battery. “We knew these panels were going into a harsh environment—in that they’d be going mobile. Technologists would be carrying the panels around, so they’d need to be very durable. A cutout [for a battery] is susceptible to bodily fluids, a design limitation that we wanted to overcome. We’ve eliminated the cutout, which is good from an environmental and durability standpoint,” said Zinchini.

Zinchini notes that the company’s 14 x 17 and 17 x 17 panels are the “lightest weight in the industry.” That’s important because technologists are carrying these panels around the hospital as they go about their 8- to 12-hour shifts—and a couple of pounds can make a huge difference, he says.