Part Archive, Part Patient Record: New Uses for CDs & DVDs

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Since CD and DVD storage technology entered the medical imaging arena, they have provided a simple way to eliminate expensive film costs by archiving and distributing medical images among patients and physicians. What was previously just a market for simple archival and distribution seems to be transitioning into something more as many vendors are starting to offer image management solutions for static and dynamic images, adding accompanying educational supplemental materials on CD, DVD and even flash drives, to create a more complete, portable patient record.

Recording dynamic images on DVD

Static images are not the only data that imaging centers and departments are archiving and distributing to patients and physicians. High-resolution video recordings of dynamic series are being gathered from ultrasound, C-arms or fluoroscopy. Fluoroscopy is one modality that has steadily gained in output volume over the last four years for Baylor University Medical Center’s diagnostic radiology department, which performs approximately 160,000 to 170,000 imaging exams annually.

According to Glenn Skinner, supervisor for diagnostic radiology at Baylor, there are now approximately two and a half times more fluoroscopy studies being done than in January 2002. To keep up with the volume, and to replace its medical SVHS recorder, the Dallas-based medical center’s department deployed MDR Video from NAI Technology Products to record speech studies to DVD. They have been using the system for about two and a half years.

MDR Video integrates with existing modality exposure controls for automatic, simultaneous image capture of still images and cine loops. “The problem with VCR was that it did not have the resolution that the DVD does; now, image resolution is easily 100 percent better for playback comparisons,” Skinner notes.

They started out just using the system for modified barium swallower dysphagiagrams. “We do anywhere from 10 to 12 a day in one room; now, we can get about 14 to 16 exams done in the same room because of the time savings. We are saving per exam about 25 percent of our time,” he adds.

Burning speech studies now typically takes about 6 to 7 minutes to record and burn, and the entire file room process has been eliminated, he adds. In time-savings alone, using MDR Video has cut 30 to 40 minutes off the schedule each day. Additionally, the department is now dealing with about one-fifth the storage space they were using previously. “One shelf in the file room has two and a half to three years of exams just for fluoroscopy,” Skinner notes.

With the CD/DVD recording system, Skinner says his department gets the benefit of high-resolution rapid sequence imaging without higher radiation doses, and the continuity of video, which ultimately translates to a safer procedure for the patient.

Point-of-care medical records

Keeping up with high-volume imaging is something Banner Desert Medical Center is familiar with. The 549-bed, non-profit facility in Mesa, Ariz., provides a wide range of inpatient and outpatient services and employs more than 3,700 healthcare professionals and support staff. The facility has a medical staff of more than 1,200 physicians representing 65 specialties, with an annual imaging volume of approximately 155,000.

According to PACS Administrator Randy Robbins, utilizing the MediaWriter D200 from PACSgear allows the medical center to create portable medical, DICOM-compliant medical records at the point of care. The software interface allows a user to query multiple DICOM devices by medical record number or name, or it can work in an unattended mode called AutoBurn, which lets you send directly from the modality to MediaWriter, he adds.

The center implemented the D200 about a month ago to keep up with the high throughput. With two CD/DVD drives and a throughput of 200 discs per day, it combines studies and reports from multiple DICOM devices to create a complete medical record that can be accessed using an integrated viewer. The system also can burn data to a portable flash drive, however, Robbins says is not being utilized.

Once the staff realizes it can burn to flash drive, he looks for the feature to increase in utilization, namely for staff doing teaching cases or research.

Empowering patients

The CD and DVD market is beginning to move beyond merely putting images and reports on a disc as a film replacement, and offering additional value through supplemental and complementary content.

According to Chuck Newbry,