3 Radiology Administration Strategies for 2020
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Innovations in hardware and software help keep medical imaging as affordable and secure as possible.
Last week in our blog on Medical Imaging Trends in 2020,we explored four technology innovations in radiology that can help improve diagnosis while keeping dose as low as possible. In addition to keeping dose low and image quality high, radiology administrators have a third strategic objective: keeping medical imaging as affordable and secure as possible.
Following are 3 strategies to adopt in radiology administration – and the innovations in hardware and software to support them:
- Streamline image capture workflow
- Maximize asset utilization
- Strengthen cybersecurity
1. Streamline image capture workflow
Small enhancements can shave several minutes off each exam, adding up to measurable productivity gains – always a key objective in radiology administration. In 2020 and beyond, DR systems will continue to have more features to improve efficiency.
Let’s start with innovations in image capture software. Carestream’s ImageView Software has an intuitive and easy-to-use touch-screen interface that places the most commonly used operations on a single screen. From within a single screen, rad techs can view and access patient data, study data and views; the image viewer and positioning aids; and formatting and workflow controls. After the image is captured, it is displayed on the center panel, replacing the image viewer and positioning aids. And the acquisition controls on the right are replaced with markers and image manipulation/processing tools.
Do you know that protocol errors accounted for 28% of callbacks? (1) That’s why ImageView automates workflow with uniform protocols set to the preferences of your imaging facility, providing consistency to minimize repeat exams. Also, radiographers can access both RIS and PACS without returning to the department’s terminal – reducing the time to complete a study.
Advances in image processing also speed up workflow. For example, Digital Tomosynthesis uses a single sweep of X-ray exposures and simplifies the operator’s workflow by separating the process of DT exposure acquisition from image volume formation. As a result, multiple projections are acquired during a single DT acquisition sweep. The exam time is greatly reduced compared to traditional tomography, doing away with the trial-and-error process in locating the anatomical region of interest. By the way, inadequate anatomic coverage was the cause of about 21% of callbacks, with 50% of them occurring at the time of the examination. (1)
Medical imaging hardware boosts productivity
In addition to software enhancements, medical imaging hardware brings new features to the productivity pool. For example, our new wireless DRX Plus 2530C Detector has a smaller format to allow for easier positioning in incubator trays. And our enhanced DRX-Revolution has a smaller, lighter, and better balanced tube head and collimator for easier use and faster positioning. This helps support quicker and more efficient exams, speeds workflow and enhances technologist productivity. Additionally, optional in-bin detector charging helps make sure your detectors are always ready from room to room. The enhanced Revolution also helps you protect your investment by locking detectors to protect against theft.
Another productivity booster is investing in a dedicated portable X-ray unit. New York Presbyterian’s Lower Manhattan Hospital took this approach, keeping a DRX-Revolution Nano on a floor. As a result, they reduced patient imaging turnaround times (TATs), from order to completion, from over an hour down to 29 minutes.
Having a dedicated portable X-ray unit on a floor cut exam TATs in half.
Another tool to achieve productivity gains in bedside imaging exams is SmartGrid software. Chest X-rays done at the bedside are problematic in part due to the potential degradation of image quality due to radiation scatter. Anti-scatter grids can be highly effective in reducing scatter; however, they are heavy, bulky, and hard to handle. It takes time to achieve proper alignment; and misalignment during positioning can reduce the grid’s efficacy. SmartGrid processing software delivers the benefits of grid-like image quality without the use of an anti-scatter grid, leading to improved workflow and ease of imaging for radiographers.
2. Maximize asset utilization
How do you know if your radiology department is maximizing equipment utilization? Analytics can help you manage your assets and staff performance, and maximize your investments in diagnostic imaging equipment – another priority in radiology administration. For example, equipment utilization, reject rates and operator techniques can be monitored and compared. You can also understand which stations are over and under-utilized, the productivity of individual technologists, and image rejection rates at each station.
Data also can help you determine when to increase or decrease staffing; and which technologists would benefit from supplemental training to enhance their performance. If your facility is utilizing CR, the data can help you determine when to clean or replace your CR screens.
Carestream offers Administrative Analysis and Reporting Software – a centralized information-management tool for continuous performance feedback, allowing you to analyze results and develop improvement plans.
Another radiology administration strategy to increase asset utilization is to attract more patients. Today, patients are more empowered than ever before. Many are comparing costs and reading online reviews before choosing an X-ray imaging provider. For these reasons, medical imaging suppliers like Carestream are enhancing imaging equipment with an eye on more patient comfort and convenience. For example, the table on our DRX-Excel Plus lowers to allow easier access for ill or injured patients. Soft lighting and music selections help patients relax while the exam is being performed.
By the way, the features we described that streamline image capture workflow also can help improve the patient experience. Less time setting up an exam or pressing buttons means more time for radiographers to spend with patients.
In the future, expect more features and functionality for patient satisfaction to move into mid- and low-tier systems, similar to the car industry where end users are expecting capabilities that were once a premium feature.
The need to maximize your equipment will grow in importance as the aging population – and their need for more medical imaging – increases, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). WHO reports that the proportion of the global population over 60 years of age will rise from 12% to 22% from 2015 to 2050, adding that, “the effective use of medical imaging equipment will be required to provide high-quality patient care for aging populations.” (2)
3. Strengthen cybersecurity
The third strategy for radiology administration is heightened cybersecurity. Cyberattacks that target patient information are on the rise. HIPAA Journal reports that, “healthcare data breaches are now being reported at a rate of more than one per day.” (3) No facility wants to be in the position of notifying patients that their data has been compromised.
The PACS isn’t the only area of concern – there are also cybersecurity challenges related to DR medical imaging systems.
When DR systems were first released, security was about creating an impenetrable black box. The device manufacturer hardened the system. The customer trusted the manufacturer that the system was secure. But in 2020 and beyond, product security is a shared responsibility between the manufacturer and the customer; and a closed black box doesn’t provide the visibility required to detect and respond to threats. Therefore, Carestream has redesigned its devices to be more open and accessible by customer IT departments while still maintaining confidentiality, integrity, availability, and safety controls.
Device manufacturers like Carestream also should communicate vulnerabilities to customers in a timely fashion so that they may be remediated. For healthcare, this communication should be through H-ISAC (Health-Information Sharing and Analysis Center).
However, the onus is on customers to implement upgrades in a timely fashion, keeping software at the latest Operating System and security features. For example, Carestream’s ImageView Software Platform supports Windows 10 Operating System while providing ongoing cyber-security updates to protect patient data and help guard against malicious cyberattacks.
In today’s cybersecurity, the assumption is that attackers will always find a way in. Thus, in 2020 and going forward, a hardened IT environment is a necessity to minimize, as much as possible, potential entry points into the healthcare environment through the medical equipment.
What are your top strategies for radiology administration in 2020? Please leave a comment below – or contact me at Katie.firstname.lastname@example.org, if you are interested in writing a blog about it!
Read more blogs for radiology administrators:
- Best Practices from AuntMinnie Semifinalists for Most Effective Radiology Administrator
- 3 Challenges in Medical Imaging Management
- Staffing Challenges in Radiology
- Medical Imaging Trends in 2020
Learn more about:
- ImageView software
- SmartGrid software
- Administrative Analysis and Reporting Software
- Enhanced DRX-Revolution
- DRX-Excel Plus
- DRX-Revolution Nano
Katie Kilfoyle Remis is the editor of Everything Rad, and social media manager for Carestream Health.