Smart Media: CDs on the Go

 Two Arizona imaging groups show the need for speed and efficiency in burning CDs for patients and physicians on the move.

When patients at Sun Health Medical Centers in Phoenix need to take their images with them, a CD is the solution. This group made up of two hospitals and three health clinics, utilizes a variety of CD burners to accommodate patient and physician image needs, particularly in light of their large percentage of transitory patients. And need for CDs on the go can be large as each year the facilities perform approximately 300,000 imaging procedures in a wide range of modalities, except mammography. 

Sun Health has opted for a variety of burners made by Sorna, including two Sorna 26is a single input bin system with CD or DVD for moderate volume production, which they got when the facilities installed PACS two years ago. And more recently, they’ve brought online for the outpatient clinics three Sorna eXpedo XR1s, hands-on or web-activated compact, fully integrated, automated DICOM CD/DVD publishing systems. 

“The new eXpedo system is quite fast, and allows you to give the patients their records instantly, which is particularly convenient for Arizona’s large contingent of traveling patients,” says PACS Administrator Micha Ronen.

The Sorna technology also presents a cost-effective means of creating, storing and transporting secured medical information. “One single CD containing 500 medical images costs about 45 cents, whereas film costs of that many images would estimate about $70. Plus, it reduces the size of shipments tremendously,” notes Ronen. 

In the Sun Health facilities, about 90 percent of imaging procedures are filmless, and of the remaining 10 percent, only 5 percent of the patients still receive paper.

Accessibility does not seem to be a problem at Sun Health, because Ronen says that any physician who has access to a normal PC with a CD drive can view the images.

In addition to a convenient means of transporting images, Ronen says that “Sorna’s new technology also allows us to include the printed radiologist’s report on the CD as an additional folder for the doctor to open. Sorna goes into the RIS and pulls the report for that study and attaches to the CD as a supplementary folder.”

Ronen accentuates the ease of accessibility of the “new Sorna software, [with which] users can create and print any CD in any of the five facilities of Sun Health because it links the entire Sun Health enterprise.”

Imaging IT in Scottsdale

“The ability to accurately produce discs quickly and efficiently, to easily configure the print design and add the company logo to the discs, to prioritize urgent exams, to anonymize patient demographics, to import DICOM functionality, and a user-friendly interface for our employees,” are the reasons that PACS Adminis-trator Andrea Gold of Scottsdale Medical Imaging (SMIL) in Arizona, utilizes the DatCard Systems’ PACScube.

SMIL is a free-standing physician-owned and operated practice, made up 10 imaging centers and 45 radiologists. Together, the facilities perform approximately 250,000 imaging procedures yearly in all modalities, including digital and analog mammography.

SMIL most often utilizes the PACScube system to create CDs for patients, to import outside DICOM CDs into PACS for comparison purposes and to create anonymized CDs for research studies and presentations.

Unfortunately, only about 5 percent of their referring physicians accept CDs right now, Gold says. So, SMIL must continue to store and ship film because many physicians in the Scottsdale area still request it.

Nonetheless, SMIL reaps the benefits of the cost-effectiveness and time-saving advantages of CD recorders. Gold says that “CDs can be produced in less than 10 minutes where filming can sometimes take five times as long. CDs cost an average of 10 cents compared to $1.50 for a sheet of film.”

Gold also notes that usage of CD recorders allows a facility to incur less staff and maintenance costs. “CD burners are placed in the filerooms and no interventions from the technical areas are needed, which reduces time and staff needed to print films. The import functionality also has eliminated the need to hang films for comparisons increasing radiologist’s productivity when interpreting exams with outside film comparisons,” she says.

Digital mammography is one modality that has not seamlessly converted to CDs. Gold explains that currently, “many facilities do not produce CDs for mammo patients due to the fact that referring physicians do not have the five megapixel diagnostic monitors in their offices to review these images.”

Overall, Gold believes that the CD burner has improved the quality of healthcare at SMIL because it “has contributed to more effective digital image transfers between their offices. All 10 of SMIL’s offices can connect and burn CDs remotely, allowing the IT staff to access and manage these systems remotely, which saves time and travel between offices.”

Future Competition

Both Ronen and Gold believe the next step for their facilities is DVD recorders, because they have a capacity that is seven to eight times larger than a CD.

“Only a very rare subject will need multiple discs, even though Sorna capabilities do allow this type of storage” according to Ronen.

Yet, Gold believes that “as modalities continue to create larger and larger data sets, DVD usage will increase.”

The two PACS administrators agree that many referring physicians would currently have difficulty accessing the technology to view DVD images. But only time will tell.