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September 3, 2015

Human element is important for vets using high-tech products, says Hallmarq

We’ve all experienced the frustration that comes from glitches in a system, transferring old data to a new model, or simply getting high tech to work in the way that we want it to. As the level of technology increases in veterinary practice, it’s becoming an increasing concern. When lives are at stake, professionals can’t afford to be let down by technology. But many practices are not putting enough emphasis on the support available when making buying decisions about new high tech purchases, say experts at Hallmarq Veterinary Imaging.

“To get the best images, you need the best support team you can possibly access,” says Jos Belgrave CEO of Hallmarq Veterinary Imaging. As winners of the Queen’s award for innovation and even more recently, the Institute of Physics innovation award, Hallmarq is the very embodiment of high-tech, yet the company says the human element plays just as important a part in the delivery of a quality product.

Hallmarq’s team of degree level qualified scientists, physicists and engineers are available at the end of a phone, remotely logged on to a PC, via Skype, or even in person.  They are not just there to deal with problems, with the most common question being, ‘What do you think about my images today?’ “We really work that closely with clinics every day,” says support team manager Snezhana Chater.

The level of personal attention available is perhaps surprising, with the Hallmarq team even sitting in remotely during a scan to ensure that everything runs smoothly. In one case the radiologist was called to an emergency but the neurologist needed more sequences, so Hallmarq took over and scanned the rest of the animal remotely.

And just sometimes there is problem solving, as Snezhana describes, “One practice reported noisy images. Everything worked well on the phantom, which is a physical object that we use to run tests on, but when the patient was scanned the noise returned.  We decided to send out an engineer who was able to identify that the clinic was using non-MRI approved equipment.”

“It’s important to us that we take ownership of any problems and work with the practice to solve them – regardless of the origin of those issues,” says Jos. “But, in fact, what we do most is work with customers to ensure that they get the highest quality images to allow them to make the right decisions about treatment. If your clinic has just installed an MRI you are going to be on a steep learning curve, so you really do have to know that support and expertise will be there when you need it. The take-home message is don’t get too caught up in the gadget – exciting though that is – think about how available the knowledgeable support actually is, because this is one area where you can’t just ‘ask Google’.”