Workflow & women’s imaging

Although diagnostic performance is absolutely essential in imaging tools, the workflow impact of new technologies also plays a critical role. A pair of studies in the February issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology hint at the issue as it relates to new women’s imaging tools.

Researchers at The University of Chicago Medicine who evaluated a prototype computer-aided diagnosis (CADx)/decision support tool for dynamic-contrast enhanced breast MR reported a somewhat unexpected finding that the system had a negligible impact on radiologists’ performance.

Despite the minimal effect on diagnostic performance, three out of the five radiologists affirmed that the system was useful. The study focused on diagnostic performance and reader confidence, but in practice, workflow is the third key component of the imaging equation. I suspect that like standard breast MR CAD technologies, this prototype provided a workflow boost, perhaps helping radiologists organize and review volumes of MR data.

The prototype merits additional investigation as the researchers offered multiple reasons for the not-so-positive findings. However, practical applications of such tools also must factor in their workflow impacts.

In the second study, Kathleen R. Brandt, MD, from the department of radiology at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and colleagues simulated how digital breast tomosynthesis would be applied in a diagnostic workup model.

In this study, the researchers reported performance on par with diagnostic mammography and a comparable rate of diagnostic ultrasound use. However, the researchers outlined the positive workflow impact of tomosynthesis.

Diagnostic mammography can be an efficiency challenge for technologists, because patient positioning can be difficult and require multiple views. In contrast, tomosynthesis positioning mimics screening mammography positioning, resulting in a much more streamlined process for technologists.

These findings remind radiology stakeholders to consider the comprehensive performance of imaging and advanced visualization technologies in routine practice.

How are advanced visualization tools impacting workflow in your practice? Please email and let us know.

Lisa Fratt, editor