Working Smarter with CR

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Agfa's CR 30-X tabletop digitizerThe days of computed radiography proving itself are clearly in the past as more and more hospitals and imaging centers embrace the benefits of CR and even migrate to the next generation. For both new and veteran users alike, CR is about working smarter to better serve the needs of the patients, physicians, and facilities.

Hospitals and imaging centers recently making the switch to or adding CR report they have seen remarkable improvement in the delivery of patient care and work productivity even during the first few months. For facilities with many more years of experience, they continue to see improvements with the introduction of new options, systems upgrades, and software that help them fine tune quality of care and workflow.

Service where you need it

One veteran facility with many years of CR experience is the University of Virginia Health System in Charlottesville, Va. It includes the UVA Medical Center, a 572-bed Level 1 trauma center. Rich Hooper, R.T. (R), (CV), medical center manager, diagnostic radiology, has "seen the system evolve" during the 15 years he's worked with CR from what he calls a "boat anchor" to the system it is today — "small, fast, and flexible." Because of these changes and the reduction of system costs, CR has moved from a centralized service to a decentralized service.

Since the installation of their first CR unit nearly 17 years ago UVA Health System has been loyal to Fuji, its sole CR vendor. Today, they "have already expanded to most every part of the hospital. With 27 CR readers, 30 IIPs [Image and Information Processor, an integrated patient ID and image QA review station], and another multi-plate reader expected in the next month or two, we have just about maxed out our capacity of CR," says Hooper. The units can be found throughout the facility, including one in each x-ray room, most critical care units, outpatient sites, and operating rooms, as well as in a recovery room, pediatrics, orthopedics, and urology. The units — including five Fuji Carbons and five Fuji Smart CRs — are responsible for more than 150,000 CR imaging procedures a year, accounting for 42 percent of all radiology exams.

Similarly, Cook Children's Health Care System based in Fort Worth, Texas, has decentralized its radiology services with the installation of 12 Konica Minolta CR systems on the main campus and at satellite locations within a 35-mile radius. The pediatric healthcare system installed its first CR in the Cook Children's Radiology Imaging Center in Hurst, about 15 miles from the main campus, when the center opened in 2000.

After three years of CR experience under their belt, they switched vendors with the installation of Konica Minolta CR units. "I guess you could say we cut our CR teeth in those initial three years," says Linda Boatner, RT (R), CRA, administrative director of imaging services for 32 years. "At the time we began to phase in CR at our other locations, we had the opportunity to investigate newer technology. Konica allowed us to set custom algorithms for patients as small as two pounds to adult size. We also like the fact that the Xpress was not a slot-loading configuration, which allows for faster throughput. Konica was innovative and willing to listen to our needs and we established our partnership."

As part of their radiology decentralization, units are located in the 282-bed medical center's main radiology department, the critical care units, and an urgent care center. Units also are located at the Specialty Clinics Building adjacent to the main campus and two other outpatient locations. Cook Children's is a filmless environment. Nearly 73 percent of the 110,000 imaging procedures performed system-wide annually are CR. They report a 99.9 percent uptime for the Konica equipment. The addition of CR units outside of the traditional radiology unit allow for faster diagnosis, smoother workflow, and expedient patient care.   

One-spot management

Having a decentralized radiology service doesn't mean running from unit to unit to manage the system. Tracking the performance of the CR units and techs is now as easy as sitting at a desk at one location. Jeff Harrington, MS, a medical physicist at Columbia St. Mary's Health System in Milwaukee, Wis., uses Kodak's Administrative Analysis and Reporting software that came with the installation of the Kodak Directview CR system last fall. It was just a few months ago that the multiple-location health system, comprised of four hospitals and 30 clinics,