CR Successes

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This month we're saluting achievements in radiology department efficiency derived from computed radiography with a series of five case studies from a variety of types of healthcare facilities around the country and in Israel.

We're highlighting a full-service tertiary care hospital in Portland, Ore. (110,000 imaging procedures, 48,000 of which are radiography based) that touts CR-based time-savings of 20 percent and a drop in repeat film rate to 1 percent from 4 percent; a big Midwestern healthcare clinic in Wichita that has seen 30 percent productivity gains among x-ray techs thanks to a combination of CR and PACS, as well as radiologist report turnaround time dip to near immediate to four-hour report access from 24 to 48 hours; remote, 200-bed Beaufort Memorial Hospital, which has two radiologists reading 85,000 exams a year, has seen great efficiency gains thanks to small footprint, dual-bay CR system; Frankford Health Care System in urban Philadelphia has taken advantage of a 20-percent boost in productivity thanks to CR - helping it deal with a 10 percent decline in staffing and 10 percent increase in exam volume; and one of Israel's largest hospitals, 2,000-bed Sheba Medical Center, has seen CR distributed workflow savings in the OR of up to 30 minutes per exam or two to three hours each day, depending on the radiology workload.

CR Brings Remote Sites into PACS at Wichita Clinic

By Larry Leopold, R.T., Radiology Manager, Wichita Clinic, Wichita, Kan.

Located 200 miles southwest of Kansas City, the Wichita Clinic (Kan.) is one of the largest privately owned healthcare clinics in the Midwest. At the main Murdock facility and 11 satellite sites located around the greater Wichita area, the clinic efficiently handles 580,000 patient visits and 103,000 procedures a year - all between the hours of 8 and 5, Monday through Friday.

Wichita Clinic began its journey towards PACS early. In 1997, seeking to save on film costs, the clinic began with a small-scale server and two workstations from Agfa, installed in the Murdock facility. The physician-owners saw cost savings and productivity improvements right away, so the process continued with Agfa until Murdock was completely filmless in 2002.

Physician response was overwhelmingly positive. They loved the image availability on their computer monitors using Agfa's WEB1000, and the ability to consult simultaneously with a radiologist. PACS, for them, meant faster, more accurate diagnoses, better patient care, and increased productivity. Radiologist and Chief Medical Officer Steve Taylor commented that his life is much more efficient since PACS. "With no downtime between cases; and we never spend time looking for old film. Best of all, it allows the radiology department to provide better patient service."

In the meantime, however, physicians at the outlying clinics were still operating on the old system - in which the patient would be screened at the satellite site, yet would have to wait 24 to 48 hours for a diagnosis while the twice-daily courier service ferried images to Murdock and radiologists' reports back. That sometimes meant, if you were a patient at a branch site, and you had pneumonia or a hairline fracture, you could have a long wait.

As a first step, the brand new facility, the Northeast clinic, was outfitted with Agfa's ADC Solo CR system when it was built in 2000, but the need was increasing to connect the other outlying sites into PACS. Agfa's range of CR systems, designed to serve the largest to the smallest facilities, provided the financial solution for Wichita. In 2002, an Agfa ADC Compact was purchased for our larger Bethel-Newton clinic 30 miles to the north, and ADC Solos for the Carriage Park and Mapleridge sites, bringing four of the off-site locations digital by the end of 2003. Today, Agfa's initia system is being considered as a CR solution for those remaining sites that perform fewer than 200 radiology procedures a month.

The new turnaround time for radiologists' reports, ranging from immediate to four hours, has been cited as a huge benefit by physicians at the outlying sites. Mark Springer, MD, a pediatrician at Wichita's Carriage Park facility, says, "For subtle findings where a radiologist's expertise is critical, such as a possible fracture in a child's growth plate, the delay used to be a big problem. Now I can call up a radiologist while the patient is still in my office, and we can look at the film together." Beyond the improved customer service