Radiology Equipment Selection Begins with Understanding Workflows

9 questions to answer before researching equipment

Radiology equipment selection for imaging rooms is among the most important decisions a hospital or imaging facility will make. Choosing the imaging product best suited to your workflow and imaging needs can help your doctors make quicker diagnoses and give you a faster return on investment. The right diagnostic imaging equipment also can help reduce x-ray exam times and increase patient comfort.

Selecting the wrong product can negatively affect imaging workflow and owner costs. Considering that the average lifespan of digital radiography equipment is 20 years, it is critical to make a well-informed decision.

90% of successful product selection comes from understanding clinical and ergonomic workflows

During my 10 years of advising medical imaging facilities on equipment purchases, I’ve found that some facilities don’t fully understand their imaging needs. Others might understand them, but have not documented their needs well enough to share with the prospective vendor. This makes it hard for the supplier to recommend the most appropriate solution. It also makes it difficult for you to compare products from different vendors.

The most important considerations are clinical and ergonomic workflows in imaging rooms. I’ve found that 90 percent of successful product selection comes from fully understanding how the equipment and the room will be used.

Clearly identifying and documenting your workflows and imaging needs in a room will help you make a well informed purchase decision. It will also get you to the end of the sales process – and ultimately up and running – sooner.

Do some research before starting the radiology equipment selection process

Based on my experience, here is a short list of questions that you should be prepared to answer before starting your process of digital radiography equipment selection.

  • How many imaging exams will be performed on the equipment each day?
  • What type of room will the imaging exams be performed in? For example, is it trauma, ED, general radiology, orthopaedic, or some other room?
  • Do you need to do pediatric imaging?
  • What images do you need to capture? For example, chest, extremities, abdomen/stomach, long bone, standing knees, and feet. Make a complete and specific list.
  • How many people are typically in the imaging room? This will help determine and possibly limit equipment size. Complicated procedures for neuro and other ologies, and interventional procedures increase the number of people needed in a room. The number of people is also larger at training facilities.

Similarly, imaging rooms for inpatients need to be large enough to handle the critical care patients who come down for special exams. These patients might need anesthesia and special gases. They might be tethered to ventilators and multiple pumps.

  • What are the sizes of your patients? Do you need to image bariatric patients? If so, your X-ray table needs to support their weight without losing important functionality such as tilt and table top movement.
  • Are your patients ambulatory?  Or are they in wheelchairs, beds and/or stretchers?
  • What is the clinical workflow for the room?
  • What is your budgeting process? How long does it usually take? Are there timeframes and deadlines for submitting budgeting requests for approval?

Based on your answers to these questions, your supplier can likely give you the best possible solution to meet your diagnostic imaging needs, along with a preliminary equipment layout. The layout will illustrate how the equipment will fit in the room while accommodating clinical, patient, and tech workflows.patient getting an x-ray

At this point, your supplier also can give you guidance about any possible room modifications that will be required to accommodate the new equipment. This could involve changes to plumbing, electricity, and even structural support. Ideally, your supplier will give you options to minimize room construction, if possible. Be prepared to ask questions like, “what can we do if we don’t move the table?” or, “is there a way to replace tables and control panels?”

I hope these questions will help you better understand your clinical and ergonomic workflows, and choose the best possible product to meet your diagnostic imaging needs.

Do you have other questions or considerations to add to the list? I’d love to hear them.

Read the related article on Radiology Room Requirements for Medical Imaging

Bill Bartosch is a Senior Project Manager at Carestream Health. In addition to having extensive experience in the healthcare industry, he is certified by the Project Management Institute.

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