Until recently, medical display quality assurance (QA) options were limited to two, not-so-ideal solutions. Workstation-based QA controls calibration and centralized QA management on one local reading seat. It’s a tedious, labor-intense (and expensive) process that requires an IT staffer to individually check each medical display.
As is often the case, advanced technology has come to the rescue, relieving much of the QA burden. Additional software can centralize management and provide QA at the facility level to deliver workflow benefits. Some healthcare facilities have embraced the central management concept. The number of centrally managed medical displays is growing rapidly with nearly 40 percent of medical diagnostic displays under central management in 2005.
The solution is attractive for a number of reasons. The central management option tremendously simplifies and streamlines the process of keeping tabs on all those monitors with in the enterprise.
On the other hand, many facilities are reluctant to implement central management of medical displays. The drawback is simple — cost. The upfront capital investment deters budget-conscious sites from implementing central QA operations. The decision not to centralize QA may be penny-wise and pound foolish as it is associated with some long-term financial benefits.
Now, however, healthcare facilities have a third solution. Recognizing the shortcomings of current medical display QA options, Barco developed MediCAL QAWeb, a centralized, online, remote QA management solution that employs the application service provider (ASP) model. The new solution is a best-of-both-worlds option. It is easy-on-the-purse-strings and delivers workflow and quality improvements.
Scripps Medical Center in San Diego, Calif., plans to deploy Barco’s MediCal QAWeb with its Barco Coronis Color Diagnostic Luminance display systems. The ASP approach reinvents the conventional quality assurance processes and promises to deliver hefty benefits, says PACS Administrator Morly Ball.
Softcopy QA at a glance
MediCal QAWeb applies the ASP model to softcopy QA. QA applications are hosted on a central server, and the customer pays per display per year for QA and service. Essentially, the user rents the applications, application server and storage space. This model eliminates the primary roadblock to centralized display management — the need to purchase, install and maintain the software. What’s more, the ASP model enables centralized tracking and reporting, easy downloads of updates and controlled scalability.
The approach certainly carries financial appeal, but MediCal QAWeb delivers performance and workflow pluses as well. “With MediCal QAWeb, we can identify system performance remotely and proactively. Barco provides warnings and logs to the monitor level via email. This allows us to correct small glitches before they grow into major problems, and it creates the right reports (ie JCAHO) to prove QA compliance to prove QA compliance. Plus, MediCal QAWeb allows us to schedule remote QA at any time; there’s no need to schedule and send an IT staff member to each individual workstation,” explains Ball.
The new process represents a dramatic improvement over the previous medical display calibration process at Scripps. Ball used to send a staff member to calibrate 14 displays at one facility. Calibration might entail interrupting a radiologist during reading; however, hospitals (and radiologists) generally frown on such interruptions. Plan B meant overtime for the IT staff, so QA could occur during non-essential hours. MediCal QAWeb provides self-calibration. “I don’t need a person to calibrate our medical displays, which really cuts costs. We’re not interrupting physicians or paying overtime,” states Ball.
In fact, Ball calculates that the online QA solution will allow Scripps to cut its IT staff in half, delivering a significant cost savings. Barco calculates that the MediCal QAWeb and ASP model could reduce the QA and service costs by more than 10 percent in a typical medium-sized facility with 20 diagnostic displays. Plus, costs remain consistent over the life of the display.
At the same time, MediCal QAWeb simplifies deployment. Software, including the latest versions, is centrally hosted, making it easy for users to download updates.
Ball foresees other benefits, too. Consistent QA will translate into higher confidence among radiologists. “Physicians can relax about calibration. MediCal QAWeb guarantees that monitors are at optimal calibration levels,” says Ball.
Calibration, QA and beyond
Calibration, while critical, is only a small component of the QA process. Calibration requires a front-of-screen measurement to verify that the display system meets predetermined parameters.” QA is ongoing process that checks calibration and luminance levels, assesses monitors for defects and incorporates routine maintenance and service.
The online MediCal QAWeb re-creates the conventional, time-consuming and costly QA process, where an IT staffer traipses from monitor to monitor looking for problems. MediCal QAWeb identifies problems proactively and immediately notifies appropriate administrators wherever they are. “The problems come to you, so you only have to focus on areas of high-priority that require assistance,” explains Ball. Ball and his colleagues no longer spend hours hunting for a needle in a haystack. Instead, MediCal QAWeb delivers the needle to his doorstep.
The fix, in some cases, is simple and remote. MediCal QAWeb also facilitates anytime/anywhere solutions as administrators can receive and act upon alerts and emails anywhere in the organization. What’s more, several users can view logs and warning at the same time, facilitating collaboration.
MediCal QAWeb represents the next-generation of medical display management. It deploys technology in a cost-effective, proactive and transparent manner to streamline and improve QA processes, allowing the customer to reap significant gains. The IT staff time commitment to monitor calibration is minimized. The healthcare facility avoids costly capital investments while maintaining state-of–the-art QA solutions. Administrators are notified of potential problems as they occur, enabling them to solve minor issues before they grow into crises and maximize the facility’s investment in its display systems. “Barco’s MediCal QAWeb is a new QA model, but it will be the wave of the future,” concludes Ball.
|Questions & Answers About Online QA|
|What are the primary benefits of MediCal QAWeb?|
How does MediCal QAWeb work?
How secure is MediCal QAWeb? Does online QA comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)?