Monash Health Benefits from a Vendor-Neutral Archive

As part of its RIS/PACS implementation, Monash Health in Victoria, Australia, has implemented a vendor-neutral archive (VNA) to store, secure, and access its medical images and other clinical data.

Tony Gabbert, operations manager at Monash Health, told us that the facility has many sources of imaging, and that using a VNA provides a better experience for the physicians and the patients. The VNA unites a fractured system, bringing the medical images from different departments together into a single depository.

You can watch the complete interview below or on YouTube.

Survey: Radiologists are Happy at Work

Liza Haar, Editor, Diagnostic Imaging

Liza Haar, Editor, Diagnostic Imaging

Sixty-eight percent of radiologists told us in our annual Radiology Compensation Survey, they are happy being radiologists. This satisfaction comes even though, not surprisingly, rads are logging long hours (63 percent work 41 to 75 hours a week). Most of the respondents were veterans of the radiology industry, with more than 20 years of experience.

This year, we also found that salaries dipped slightly (the mean salary for 2014 was about $355,000, down from a mean of $400,000 in 2013), but again, all signs point to overall job satisfaction. There is a lot of talk amongst rads about the future of radiology, and whether it is reimbursement, the job market or government policies, rads worry about where their profession is going.

On the other hand, many of today’s radiologists have had the opportunity to see imaging technology change right before their eyes (no pun intended!). While change can be frustrating, being a part of innovation and seeing the beneficial effects it has on your career is a fulfilling experience for rad professionals. Regardless of the state of the industry, rads are still happy in their field and as the radiology industry continues to change, the community continues to embrace that change.

For more results on salaries and job satisfaction among radiologists, technologists and administrators, check out the official survey from Diagnostic Imaging.

Photo courtesy of Diagnostic Imaging

Photo courtesy of Diagnostic Imaging

Photo courtesy of Diagnostic Imaging

Photo courtesy of Diagnostic Imaging

Five Steps to Better Digital Radiography Asset Utilization

JED Armstrong, X-ray Solutions Specialist, Carestream

JED Armstrong, X-ray Solutions Specialist, Carestream

With growing concerns about decreasing reimbursement and lingering low confidence in access to capital for imaging and IT needs, how can radiology administrators identify waste and inefficiencies?

At last week’s AHRA Arizona meeting, we discovered ways to maximize return on investment.

In a CE credit session I had the opportunity to zero in on one department’s approach starting with the single most expensive component in a DR room – the detector.

Idle detectors provide no workflow benefits and slow return on investment.   How can you ensure you are maximizing this asset’s use? Here’s a five step process to test your DR strategy:

Step 1: Inventory Assets

Conduct a physical inventory of x-ray assets across the organization. How many systems from different vendors do you have? Where are the systems in their lifecyle? Which detectors are moveable? Are your detectors wireless or tethered? Create a spreadsheet that details each system, its age, software, maintenance contracts, available upgrades and if it’s in working order.

Step 2: Chart Asset Utilization

For each system capture the image volume, exam throughput and uptime requirements. Indicate if detectors are being shared between systems and if the detector is being used 24/7. Note degrees of required equipment redundancy. Document any staffing considerations for each asset. Is there a technician who only works with portables or specific vendor systems?AHRA graph

Step 3: Develop Growth Projections

Forecast market changes and the potential impact on your volumes. Could a planned closure of a nearby hospital within the year drive up imaging volumes in your ER or trauma center? Will a change in local population demographics drive surgical volumes?

Step 4: Identify Workflow Modifications

Analyze the three data sources collected in the previous steps. What changes to department workflow and/or purchases could lower redundancy, improve equipment utilization and unlock capacity for growth? For example:

  • Move an underutilized wireless DR detector from your DR room bucky to a portable for morning rounds. Then return the wireless detector for peak DR room volume. Finally redeploy the same detector to the ER for the night shift.
  • Use a common CR and DR software interface to ensure all techs can operate all systems and move easily from one piece of equipment to the next.
  • Purchase a second wireless detector for the radiology room second shift to make technicians working alone more efficient.

Step 5: Review Asset Replacement Strategies

Look for modular ways to continually advance your capabilities while still leveraging your legacy technology. Work with your vendor to determine if you need to replace a whole system or if upgrading a component like a detector could extend the life of your investment.

Let’s look at a scenario where changes in wireless DR detector utilization could have a significant impact on the ability to respond to volume growth:

Hospital A has an extremely busy ED / Trauma area. With capital constraints, the most they could afford in the last few budget years was CR technology. Funds this year are limited, but there is money available. An inventory of their x-ray assets finds that they have two full x-ray rooms, one “chest” room and three portable units – all over 10 years of age. The radiology director is projecting a continued an increase in volumes as a nearby hospital has recently closed and ED/Trauma volume is now significantly higher. The hospital determines the best use of funding is to convert one x-ray room and a portable system to DR at the same time. By retrofitting the portable and purchasing two detectors for the x-ray room, the second detector can be shared with the portable during off hours. In the future when parts are no longer available for the rooms, they will upgrade the equipment hardware and continue to use the detectors and software from their initial DR investment.

Your imaging vendor should partner with you to ensure you’re making the most of DR asset utilization and are not missing an opportunity to reduce the cost per image and accelerate the return on investment. Ask your partner to take you through this five step process to build justification models for your administration.

You can find the slides to my AHRA session below:

[Whitepaper] How Can Bone Suppression Improve Chest Radiographic Images?

Helen Titus

Helen Titus, Marketing Director, X-ray Solutions, Carestream

Chest radiography is vital to diagnosing lung diseases. A high signal-to-noise-ratio (SNR) is crucial if an image is to be determined as appropriate for diagnosis, and it becomes the mission of the acquisition system to leave as much noise out as possible.

Bones, specifically the posterior ribs and clavicles, are the usual noise culprits in chest imaging. The ability to decrease that noise can provide radiographers with an improved, well-defined image, and allow the radiologist to make the proper diagnosis.

A tool such as bone suppression software allows the noise of the ribs to be significantly decreased and require no additional procedure or radiation dose. The software is designed to suppress the high-contrast bone structures while maintaining the contrast-detail level, as closely as possible to that of the original images.

Learn more about this technology and the process of Carestream’s Bone Suppression Software (having recently received FDA approval and being part of the Directview v5.7 release) in the whitepaper, Bone Suppression for Chest Radiographic Images.

[Webinar] Image Quality: Does it Matter, and How Should We Define It?

Dr. Ralph Schaetzing, Manager, Strategic Standards & Regulatory Affairs, Carestream

Dr. Ralph Schaetzing, Manager, Strategic Standards & Regulatory Affairs, Carestream

Where is image quality? In the capture device? In the image processing? In the display system? In the brain of the viewer? Is it everywhere, or nowhere in particular?

These questions were answered recently in a webinar titled “Does Image Quality Matter?” by taking a closer look at the imaging chain.

Any imaging chain (also a medical one) contains five distinct functions:

  1. Capture (the creation of the image),
  2. Process (which itself consists of three sub-functions: preprocessing of the captured image, optimization for interpretation/viewing, and processing for the output device),
  3. Display (assuming a human is the viewer),
  4. Storage
  5. Distribution.

The answers depends on which image quality we mean: the objective image quality we can measure, the subjective image quality perceived by the viewer, or, particularly important in medical imaging, viewer performance using the image for some interpretation task.

In modern imaging systems, these three “flavors” of image quality are weakly, if at all correlated, which makes the prediction of one kind of image quality from another rather tricky, but also interesting.

The entire webinar has been embedded below. By the end, the questions asked at the outset should be answered, though the path to get to those answers may surprise you.

Guess the X-ray — April’s Image Challenge

Last month’s image challenge proved to be just that– a challenge! It took two different views of the object, but congratulations to the person who correctly guessed it as a stapler. Below is the image for April’s “Guess the X-ray”.  Please leave your comments below or on our Facebook page. The challenge will run until April30 or until the first person correctly names the item in the image.  Good luck!

Sorry…Carestream employees and their agencies are prohibited from entering.

 

Why DR is Important for Facilities in India

The benefits of DR have been discussed at great length, but there are regions around the world that have not been able to implement the technology as fast as others.

Dr. Anirudh Kohli, Head of Radiology, Breach Candy Hospital, Mumbai says that the turn-around time and ergonomics of using DR have resulted in several benefits including better care and a better patient experience. He mentions that a medical imaging process that used to take 10-15 minutes now takes under 3-4 minutes thanks to DR.

In the video below, Dr. Kohli explains this and more about Breach Candy Hospital’s uses of DR, as well as why more facilities in India should be using DR technologies.