Remote Visual Assistance Tool Enables Real-Time Customer Support
Varian Smart Services focuses on proactive care to help optimize clinic availability and minimize downtime. With the addition of SmartCollaborator, an augmented reality-enabled remote visual assistance tool, many issues can often be resolved in real time and faster than ever before.
Reducing unplanned downtime is an important element of keeping a clinic running efficiently and delivering top-quality care. Even small issues can cause frustrating delays in treatment delivery and disrupt clinical operations.
That is why Varian has added SmartCollaborator to its Smart Services customer support offerings. SmartCollaborator is a powerful remote service app that helps keep radiotherapy systems up and running smoothly by addressing issues quickly over real-time video. Using SmartCollaborator, Varian service professionals can address something as simple as resetting a breaker after a power outage, or something more complex, such as troubleshooting technology or workflow issues.
With SmartCollaborator, however, all it takes is a wireless (WiFi) connection in the treatment vault, and an iOS or Android device (including smartphones and tablets) for clinic-based personnel to connect remotely—and immediately—with a Varian Help Desk specialist. In many cases, the issue can be resolved right then and there, without waiting for an in-person service call.
The process is simple. While on the phone, the Varian Help Desk specialist sends a link to start a virtual repair session. Connection, via WiFi, occurs within seconds. Through the video session, which uses augmented reality (AR) and other advanced service support features, the specialist can interact with the clinician as if they were working side by side. This includes a visual assessment of the situation, identification of trouble spots, and step-by-step instructions to fix the issue. The Help Desk specialist can also source additional support if needed.
Andrea Skinner is a Varian Help Desk product specialist who understands the pressures and urgency impacting radiation therapists in the clinic. “SmartCollaborator is a game changer when it comes to providing real-time technical support in challenging situations,” she says.
“I recently connected with a customer who had a very complex question involving processes across three different aspects of the treatment journey, which required me to work with her in the simulator, the planning system, and then at a treatment machine,” she explains. “Using SmartCollaborator on her smartphone, she could take me through the rooms and show me the set up so we could do some very thorough troubleshooting—all over one single connection.”
In addition to easy-access video, SmartCollaborator offers comprehensive remote-assist features designed to make the troubleshooting and repair processes as quick and easy as possible. The shared on-screen workspace incorporates:
- On-screen annotation. Varian support staff can draw, add arrows, or drop pins directly onto the shared screen, for instance, to highlight an area of interest and help onsite personnel more effectively.
- 3D annotation, which allows the on-screen annotation to remain in the area selected even if the camera moves. This is useful for scanning across multiple areas to identify potential irregularities and for giving specific instructions.
- Image freeze, with pan and zoom to navigate around areas of interest.
- Document sharing with all call participants. These documents can include PDF files, such as guides and manuals with diagrams and other instructions.
- Multi-party calls. Specific subject-matter experts can be added to a call to provide additional support.
SmartCollaborator is also proving to be a valuable tool for Varian field engineers and installation teams, who piloted the solution during the COVID-19 pandemic, when travel was limited and in-person access to healthcare facilities was often unavailable. From one interface, service engineers and installation teams have quick and easy access to other Smart Services experts during complex installations. In the event that an in-person service call is necessary, service engineers can use SmartCollaborator to gain a solid understanding of issues ahead of time so that they are properly equipped to deal with them onsite.
“In the past, we often had to ask customers to take a picture and email it to us, which could cause delays,” Skinner added. “Now there’s a sense of relief when we tell them we’re going to send a link for real-time sharing of visual information. We’re always looking for better ways to support our customers and SmartCollaborator is saving valuable time while helping to keep systems up and running smoothly.”