As medical imaging continues to migrate from film to a digitally oriented environment, the need to maintain a consistent flow of clean power increases. Not only must the imaging technology be protected from damage and failure, but also at risk is the integrity of the data they output. Roberta Katz, director of healthcare ? life sciences solutions at EMC Corp, Hopkinton, Mass, explains that as radiology and cardiology evolve into digital infrastructures through PACS, “there is a big push for quality, efficiency, and the highest availability [while still managing to] protect, manage, share, and archive patient information for years.”

And 24/7 availability of patient information is a critical requirement. To accomplish this crucial need, the medical field is “investing in technology like they never have before,” states Mark Greenlaw, senior director of storage product marketing at EMC.

Per Ron Wodka, medical OEM business development manager at Tripp Lite, Chicago, hospitals tend to “think about everything but power” with regard to planning for and purchasing medical-imaging equipment.

Todd Henderson, global accessories product manager at GE Healthcare, Waukesha, Wis, explains, “The NFPA-99 Standard for Health Care Facilities requires that emergency power from a backup generator be up and online within 10 seconds or less if a power outage occurs in a facility.”

The emergency power system at Mount Carmel Health Services, Columbus, Ohio, for example, restores power in less than 3 seconds, notes David Jerome, operations manager of radiology services at Mount Carmel; “But less than 3 seconds can be dramatic.”

Data Centers ?
Concerns and Solutions

Proper power protection, backup power, and environmental monitoring are imperative for the proper operation of data centers, which typically require 24/7 access and availability for proper patient care. The highly sensitive IT equipment within the data center is extremely valuable, both in terms of cost and value of patient-information storage. This high-density storage equipment is vulnerable to heating and power damage while demanding large amounts of energy and costs. Proper heat and power protection, as well as energy efficiency, are factors hospitals must consider when building and expanding data centers.

Solution 1: Power and Cooling Systems

Southern Ohio Medical Center (SOMC), Portsmouth, Ohio, is an acute health care system consisting of a primary care hospital, five satellite centers, an urgent care center, and three wellness fitness centers. The facility recently installed InfraStruXure architecture, manufactured by American Power Conversion Corp (APC), West Kingston, RI, in the hospital?s newly consolidated data center. Howard Stewart, RIS/PACS administrator at SOMC, explains that as the hospital has migrated to an electronic environment, especially with regard to protecting data-storage equipment, power conditioning and cooling were becoming major concerns because the current system did not allow for power and heat protection. SOMC organized a focus group to migrate from the hospital?s legacy data-storage system to a consolidated system that would allow environmental management and growth potential to increase system uptime.

The hospital selected InfraStruXure because of its rack-based modular system designed to integrate backup power, power conditioning, hot-aisle containment with In-Row air conditioning, and environmental monitoring. The InfraStruXure system also allows the hospital to plan for growth over the next 5 years with additional storage capacity built-in and the ability to add more racks, which are the enclosures for the servers in the data center. This rack-mounted architecture “makes installation a breeze,” Stewart says. The InRow cooling feature prevents heat, which is generated from the high-density equipment, from causing damage. Because of the highly sensitive nature of the IT equipment, facilities need stable and secure power to maintain the much-needed availability of the equipment. The InfraStruXure UPS devices protect the servers and the data in the event of a power outage or interruption.

“[UPS devices] give data center managers enough run time to safely shut down equipment,” explains Chet Lasell, director of public relations at APC. “Thus, data is saved in the event of a power disturbance.”

Solution 2: Energy Efficiency

Because energy costs are ever increasing, and power grids are nearing full capacity, the need for energy efficiency arises as hospitals seek to reduce costs. EMC Global Services professionals, as part of the EMC Energy Efficiency Services at EMC Corp, Hopkinton, Mass, offer to work with customers on-site to determine current and projected energy consumption in the data center by evaluating actual configuration and workload forecasts versus original maximum load specifications.

“Customers that use energy-efficient storage platforms can expect to achieve power and [financial] savings over the lifetime of the storage system, reducing the customer?s total cost of ownership,” explains Colin Boroski, senior public relations specialist at EMC. The EMC assessment is one solution to improve energy efficiency, resolve power issues, and, in turn, save space and reduce costs.

?N. Lewis

Relying on the generator is not an adequate method for backup power. In the seemingly small amount of time between the loss of power and the powering of the generator, critical electronic imaging equipment and information systems are improperly shut down and at risk for damage, information can be lost, and procedures are halted. But, complete loss of power represents only part of the story. Most power problems exist in the unseen?those milliseconds of a power loss, known as a power glitch. As Tom Stryker, sales manager of CPN Power Inc, Somerville, Mass, explains, “There are many types of power problems.” Power anomalies include voltage sags, surges, transients, harmonics, electrical noise, and frequency deviations. These anomalies often represent tiny fluctuations or electrical impulses in the power lines. A power surge, for instance, is a brief increase in voltage.

According to Tripp Lite?s Wodka, “Surges often go unnoticed, lasting only 1/120th of a second, but they are much more common and destructive than you might think.”

Power glitches are a danger to sensitive electronic imaging equipment. “Imaging systems are providing us with greater medical insight; however, at the same time, the electronics are more sensitive than ever before to power anomalies,” explains Henderson. When a power anomaly appears, errors can occur within the data systems or the actual images. A tiny blemish on a crisp, sharp image can result in the need to recapture the image. The error requires the patient to be rescheduled, or even worse, could cause a misdiagnosis. Wodka says that imaging equipment requires clean power in order to capture and transmit images without a fault.

Faults and errors not only are wasteful and possibly harmful to medical-imaging processes, but they also represent loss of time, revenue, and patient confidence. Flawed images and downtime of equipment equate to costly patient rescheduling and high service costs that add up over time. Viswas Purani, director for emerging technologies at American Power Conversion Corp (APC), West Kingston, RI, explains that hospitals must reduce errors, cut costs, eliminate the nonvalue add, and improve patient care.

Power outages and anomalies also can cause expensive damage to the imaging equipment and data systems. Craig Kalie, sales representative for POWERVAR Inc, Waukegan, Ill, explains that in addition to equipment destruction, power problems cause disruption and nuisance problems, like lock-ups that require rebooting or shutting down the equipment. Disruption to the process equates to loss of time and revenue. Another hidden cost is the constant degradation of the equipment and components over time when smaller electrical disturbances occur.

Multiple Solutions

There is good news answering to the dangers of power mishaps: Multiple solutions exist. A multitude of power-protection devices are available, such as isolation transformers, surge suppressors, power conditioners, double-conversion power conditioners, and uninterruptible power supplies (or UPS devices). “[Isolation transformers] eliminate common mode voltages and help mitigate power disturbances,” Kalie explains, noting that they also reduce electrical noise. A surge suppressor?also known as a transient voltage surge suppressor (TVSS)?diverts excess voltage. Standard power conditioners actually condition the power by stopping several of the power anomalies from causing problems with medical-imaging equipment or data centers. The double-conversion power conditioner (DCPC) operates like a UPS device in that the mechanism uses a power-regeneration approach to ensure that lag time in adjusting for voltage fluctuations is nonexistent and, according to Stryker, “that all power problems are eliminated, with the exception of the complete [power] outage.” An online UPS device provides continuous power, and a line-interactive UPS is on standby mode, supplying backup power in the event of a power outage.

GE Healthcare?s Henderson adds, “The double-conversion UPS remains the preferred backup methodology for critical applications.”

A variety of codes on emissions and safety qualify protective equipment as “medical grade,” Purani explains. Power-protective devices within the patient vicinity, or 6 feet from the patient, must meet certain medical standards related to low leakage currents. The IT spaces?the data centers and network closets?are not within patient vicinity and, therefore, are not required to meet the same standards. Greenlaw adds that medical-grade backup also has a higher level of redundancy to provide “backup to the backup.”

Powering Modalities

The exact power-protection requirements for a medical-imaging environment or data center actually depend on the configuration and type of equipment, as well as the electrical distribution. The options and requirements vary as radiology equipment evolves. Some medical-imaging equipment is growing in size and drawing more power; for example, CT is becoming more complex and sophisticated, with its number of slices per second increasing. Other equipment?ultrasound, for instance?is shrinking in size, becoming more compact and more mobile. But the standard is the same: Good, clean, quality power is essential. Purani says that the UPS is becoming “increasingly a must-have.” The size of the UPS or other protection device depends on the size of the equipment the device is protecting, but generally, the device needs to be able to support the high-power demands of the medical-imaging equipment.

Recommendations in protecting equipment from power problems sometimes vary by critical application. For example, Kevin Harris, marketing manager of TEAL Electronics Corp, San Diego, says, “Cardiac cath labs and cardiovascular suites cannot lose power,” noting that both applications need a guaranteed power source to avoid loss of life during a critical procedure, making a larger, more expensive UPS absolutely necessary. Tripp Lite, as well as other power-protection companies, generally recommend one backup device per power supply. Some hospitals, however, might not use a UPS on an MRI or CT unless the power source has proven to be bad, because larger UPS devices can be expensive.

CPN Power recommends that hospitals use a central UPS device with power conditioners to support multiple modalities, because protecting individual units could potentially involve huge costs, Stryker explains. In CPN Power?s recommendation, a central unit protects the PACS data equipment as well as the radiology and cardiology equipment; in this case, the hospital connects 12 pieces of equipment on a 750-kVA central UPS and power-conditioning system, with an additional growth of three to four more units. Stryker says that this method “lowers the cost per suite of protection” in terms of electrical distribution, electrical usage, cooling, and reduced service costs.

Hospitals do not have to make power-protection decisions alone. Many power-consulting companies exist to evaluate the hospital?s power-quality and power-protection needs. Wodka recommends that hospitals hire a power-quality and reliability specialist?in other words, an independent consultant to work in conjunction with the imaging-equipment OEM. Once medical-imaging equipment and data centers are properly protected, the hospital needs to develop and maintain a sound reassessment plan. Hospitals should reassess power-quality needs, according to Kalie, “anytime new equipment will be added or if there are unexplainable problems with the systems.”

To prevent equipment failures and damage, to reduce costs and downtime, to increase revenue and availability, and to focus on patient care, facilities must recognize the strong benefits of protecting medical-imaging equipment and data centers up front as well as electrical planning. Efficient equipment operation and uptime represent good planning for the continuity of the hospital?s business. As Mount Carmel?s Jerome asks, “Why wait for a problem to happen?”

Nici Lewis is a contributing writer for  Medical Imaging. For more information, contact .

Technical Insight: Could Ultra Capacitors Replace Batteries?

A behind-the-scenes look at the potential future of power supplies

RAM Technologies LLC, Guilford, Conn, specializes in custom-designed power supplies for OEMs. RAM Technologies uses ultra capacitors instead of batteries as the energy source in medical-grade power supplies and the company?s new patent-pending backup power supply, the RAM Ultra UPS 8000.

The ultra capacitor is an emerging technology that currently is used in the automotive industry and is ready for medical applications. Ultra capacitors are like batteries: Both are energy sources and energy-storage devices. The internal mechanism for energy storage in the devices, however, is quite different. According to Greg Allen, senior researcher at, Little Rock, Ark, ultra capacitors store energy electrostatically, by physically separating positive and negative charges; this process allows the ultra capacitors to be charged and discharged hundreds of thousands of times. Batteries store energy through chemical reactions. RAM Technologies CEO Richard Mentelos explains that by nature of design and mechanism, batteries have a more limited life than ultra capacitors. Batteries degrade, require maintenance, and must be tested to ensure adequate life. Ultra capacitors are “the ultimate long-term solution” because the devices are “more efficient and have higher capacity for supplying high energy over short periods of time,” he explains.

Therefore, RAM Technologies uses ultra capacitors in power supplies and the new UPS device. In typical battery-powered UPS devices, the UPS resides outside the enclosure where the power supply is mounted. The Ultra UPS 8000 resides inside the same enclosure as the power supply because the unit is smaller in size than its battery counterpart. Additionally, this internal mounting eliminates the need for DC to AC power conversion. “In RAM?s system,” Mentelos explains, “the energy requires less power-conversion stages and, therefore, requires fewer components and gives a more efficient transfer of energy.”

Currently, the RAM Technologies medical-grade ATX power supply is used within OEM cardiac cath lab equipment. Although ultra capacitor applications are not yet found in radiology equipment or PACS solutions, Mentelos says that the technology is what?s next: “We believe ultra capacitors are the future for all power backup requirements.”

—N. Lewis

Power-Protection Products and Services

American Power Conversion Corp (APC), West Kingston,

  • APC InfraStruXure. Plug-and-play, customized, scalable, modular systems with power,cooling, and environmental management for data centers that ship assembled, wired, and tested
  • APC InfraStruXure Manager. A 24/7 remote-monitoring service with alarm notification, online reports, and user-definable escalation procedures
  • APC InRow SC. A 12-inch-wide (half rack) self-contained cooling unit for wiring closets and server rooms

CPN Power Inc, Somerville,

  • CPN Power provides power consulting and solutions, including central UPS and power-conditioning solutions, for multimodality medical equipment applications in radiology, cardiology, and oncology.

EMC Corp, Hopkinton,

  • EMC Energy Efficiency Services. Assessment and planning services to help customers maximize energy efficiency by managing and forecasting power consumption in the data center
  • EMC Power Calculator. Tool to estimate actual energy consumption and cooling requirements based on actual configuration and workload forecasts versus original specifications for maximum loads

POWERVAR Inc, Waukegan,

  • ABCE UPS series. Single-phase, medical-grade UPS applications with isolation transformer, available from 420 to 1440 VA
  • ABC Power Conditioner series. With isolation transformer, available from 78 VA single phase to 300 kVA three phase
  • ABC Medical series. Medical grade with isolation transformer, available from 240 to 1920 VA
  • Custom engineered solutions designed to OEM specifications

RAM Technologies LLC, Guilford,

  • ATX power supply. Medical-grade power supply using ultra capacitor technology
  • RAM Ultra UPS 8000. Patent-pending medical-grade backup power supply using ultra
  • capacitor technology

TEAL Electronics Corp, San

  • Custom power subsystems. Custom-designed power subsystems typically consisting of an isolation transformer, filter, surge suppressor, voltage regulator, voltage converter, power monitor, and UPS, available from 300 VA to 250 kVA
  • PDU-XT150. Power Distribution Unit with filtering and surge suppression, for high-power medical-imaging applications, available for input voltages from 200 VAC to 480 VAC
  • TEALwatch Power Monitor. Internet-based, customizable power monitor that uses standard Web browser software for 24/7 remote monitoring

Tripp Lite,

  • SMART series On-Line type UPS systems. Double-conversion technology for critical PCs and network applications, equipped with Automatic Voltage Regulation (AVR) and surge protection
  • OMNISMART series Line Interactive type UPS devices. For noncritical applications, equipped with AVR and surge protection
  • POWERALERT software. Provides power monitoring and management of UPS devices, logs events, and automatically shuts down PCs
  • ISOBARULTRAHG surge suppressor. Filters line impurities, with diagnostics
  • HC350SR. Inverter/charger/UPS/medical-grade isolation transformer-type power supply for mobile medical workstations

—N. Lewis