Informatics boot camp focuses on practicing radiologists

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CHICAGO, Nov. 27—A meeting like the 93rd Scientific Assembly and annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) this week seems fitting for a “how to” course for practicing radiologists. In conjunction with the Society of Imaging Informatics in Medicine (SIIM), a team of experts presented a two-part course, “Practical Informatics for the Practicing Radiologist.” This was the third time the course had been offered (second time at RSNA), with attendance doubling this year.

The session was designed to provide radiologists, mainly those who work in smaller imaging centers and healthcare facilities that do not have in-house IT support with basic information on how to make the plunge into the world of PACS. “It’s a boot camp talk,” said David Wiess, MD, imaging informatics, Geisinger Medical Center, Danville, Pa., who led the Site Visit Checklist for Vendor Selection portion.

The other presentations included: The “C” in PACS Stands for Communication by Khan Siddiqui, MD, chief of imaging informatics and cardiac CT/MR imaging at VA Maryland Health Care System, Baltimore; Fine-Tuning Radiologist Efficiency in a PACS Environment by Raymond Geis, MD, radiologist, Advanced Medical Imaging Consultants, Fort Collins, Colo.; Saving Your Body (Ergonomic Design Considerations) by Eliot Siegel, MD, chief of radiology and nuclear medicine and associate professor of diagnostic radiology, University of Maryland School of Medicine and director of imaging, VA Maryland Health Care System; PACS Outside the Radiology Department by Janice Honeyman-Buck, MD; and Advanced Processing: 3D and CAD by Adam Flanders, professor of radiology and rehabilitation medicine, Jefferson Medical College, Thomas Jefferson University.

Practical advice from Weiss began with the urging to visit similar sites and types of institutions to gather information on implementing PACS, RIS and EMR reporting. Much emphasis was placed on the importance of workstation design. Communication throughout the enterprise was stressed. Weiss offered a short list of recommendations: do the homework; don’t sweat the details; don’t get hung up on one item, choose a vendor you trust; choose a PACS that fits; and specify performance, not process.

Siddiqui stressed the importance of communication with oneself, technologists, peers and referring physicians. He said “effective communication is necessary and critical to medicine.”

As an example of ideal workflow, Siddiqui provided a look into how VA Maryland Health Care System improved PACS workflow through innovation and urged the audience to take that type of lead in their organization. Some of the innovations and implementation of technology include: addressing unsigned reports; resident review; 3D billing; on call; paging radiologist lists; issue tracking; education and search tools; speech recognition; reporting critical findings; QC tool; electronic paging system; issue tracking; and the digital dashboard.

Siddiqui especially recommended that the radiologists consider building their own search engine much like Yottalook, which they launched earlier this year. Yottalook was created to use specific search algorithms that sort radiologic content and make it easier to find useful information for the radiologist. Since its launch, Siddiqui said radiologists have been using the search engine to answer clinical questions at the time of interpretation. He said it makes sense for radiologists to use this type of tool along with others to build a better practice.