October 2, 2023
HELIUM-FREE MRI — The Cordillera Hospital of the Divine Grace led by Drs. Virginia and Edgar Biteng together with Michael Schmermer, president and managing director of Siemens Healthineers and Leticia Boatman, global head of Access to Care of Siemens Healthineers, launched on May 19 the first-of-its-kind magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which has a helium-free feature using DryCool technology. The MRI, called Magnetom Free.Star is the first in the Philippines and second of its kind to be launched in Asia, next to Vietnam. — Ofelia Empian

The Cordillera Hospital of the Divine Grace (CHDG) in La Trinidad, Benguet has partnered with Siemens Healthineers in launching on May 19 the new generation of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which is the first in the Philippines and second to be inaugurated in Asia.

The MRI, called Magnetom Free.Star, provides excellent image quality through the combination of artificial intelligence-based digital technologies with a field strength of 0.55 Tesla on the company’s new and unique High-V MRI platform.

It also has a helium-free feature due to its DryCool technology and an ultra-compact footprint and design, which is an ideal option for hospitals with challenges in deploying an MRI in their location or facility. 

Medical Center Chief, Dr. Virginia Biteng, said due to the new generation technology, the hospital can now offer the MRI at a more affordable price to their clients, who are mostly from the farming industry. 

“In Asia, we’re the second because it’s a very new technology. I think it is the future of MRI. The subsequent MRIs in the future will be patterned in this new technology. So we’re one of the very first ones to prepare,” Biteng said.

CHDG will offer the new generation MRI in between the price of the government hospital and the private hospital currently offering conventional MRI in the locality.

Prior to the launching, only Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center and the Notre Dame de Chartres Hospital, both in Baguio City, offered MRI scanning in Benguet.

President and Managing Director of Siemens Healthineers Philippines Michael Schmermer said many places in the globe still lack access to MRI and that a lot need to travel from far places just to get their MRI scans.

“With the Magnetom Freestar, it has become easier and simpler, combined with digital technology that does not compromise the quality used by the system. We are very grateful to CHDG for trusting Siemens Healthineers because finally we can make MRI available for those here in La Trinidad and the Cordillera,” Schmermer said.

Niña Tioseco-Reyes of Siemens Healthineers PH said conventional MRIs are highly dependent on helium, which is scarce, for its continuous operation.

This is why there are not many MRIs in the world because of the need for a bigger space and other technical considerations, as compared with the more compact new generation technology Magnetom Free.Star MRI offers. 

Tioseco said with the launching of the new MRI technology in the country, other hospitals are expected to follow suit.

The Philippines is the second country next to Vietnam to use the technology in Asia.

Siemens Healthineers is a German medical device company. It is the parent company for several medical technology companies and is headquartered in Erlangen, Germany.

Also present during the launching held at the hospital were CHDG Chief Executive Officer Dr. Edgar Biteng, Siemens Healthineers Global Head of Access to Care Leticia Boatman, and Chan Wei of Siemens Healthineers, among other guests. – Ofelia C. Empian