Magazine article CRM Magazine

A Battle Fought from Afar: With Axeda's Help, Varian Medical Systems Remotely Tends to Its Cancer-Fighting Radiology Equipment

Magazine article CRM Magazine

A Battle Fought from Afar: With Axeda's Help, Varian Medical Systems Remotely Tends to Its Cancer-Fighting Radiology Equipment

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Scheduling may seem mundane, but not for people trying to tackle a cancer diagnosis. In fact, as they rely on strict regimens of treatments to improve their health and hopefully eradicate the disease from their bodies, scheduling is critical. The treatments have to be delivered on time for the best chance at recovery--even survival. Yet the equipment involved--typically radiation machines--doesn't always abide by doctors' and patients' schedules.

That's the cue for Varian Medical Systems, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based manufacturer of medical devices providing equipment for radiation treatment to those who need it most. Varian provides equipment to medical practitioners worldwide. "Our job is time-sensitive in that the radiation needs to be applied at specific times during the treatment cycle," explains Dan DuBeau, Varian's program manager for remote access and protection of mission-critical applications. "If you have to wait a day because the equipment is down, you can reschedule the patient, but it interferes with the effectiveness of the treatment.... We have to bring the machine back up as quickly as possible."

Since there are no representatives for Varian in close proximity to its more-distant locations, remote service has always been important. DuBeau says the company previously used Symantec's pcAnywhere, but the setup soon began falling short of Varian's own strict time demands. "Since the servers were set up with remote-access server modems, it was difficult to keep track of [service requests], numbers were hard to find, and the connection was slow," DuBeau says. "More hospitals were going to [Private Branch Exchange] systems and it was harder to get a handle line to the server."

Recognizing the company needed to act quickly to bolster its remote service, DuBeau says his department searched for new solutions--Axeda, Questra, and Cisco Systems' WebEx were all in the running. "WebEx's solution was interesting to us," he recalls. "However, it didn't allow us to proactively monitor and send alerts when certain events occurred. So basically it was between Axeda and Questra." (Ironically, Axeda acquired Questra this past December, for an undisclosed amount.)

Axeda, a Foxboro, Mass.-based provider of remote monitoring and device relationship management, won out thanks to what DuBeau calls the best array of functionality available, and a willingness to work with Varian on a customized solution including desktop control. …

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