Inside the State-of-the-Art Cath Lab

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Image courtesy of Witt Biomedical

The state-of-the-art cath lab is the model of healthcare efficiency and optimized patient care. Take for example The Richard M. Ross Heart Hospital at The Ohio State University Medical Center in Columbus. The new facility is a fully functional cardiovascular hospital that provides all aspects of cardiovascular care under one roof. It includes eight cardiac cath, vascular and electrophysiology (EP) labs.

“The benefits of this approach are reduced costs, enhanced quality and flexibility and increased speed in the delivery of healthcare tailored to our patients,” explains Duane Hart, imaging engineering service manager. The cath lab has been profitable since month one, length of stay data indicate positive performance and outcomes and patient and staff satisfaction scores are up by 25 percent.

Kathleen Rizer, RN, director of The Heart Lab at St. Elizabeth’s located on the campus of St. Elizabeth Health Center in Youngstown, Ohio, adds to the list of benefits. “Image clarity for diagnosis is outstanding. Digital imaging is crystal clear for interventional procedures.” Superior imaging technology allows physicians to handle more complex cases with a high degree of confidence, says Stanley Katz, MD, chief, division of cardiology and director of the cardiac cath lab at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y.

Precise imaging is essential as the cath lab evolves from the old-school model based on cardiac surgery as the ultimate treatment to a new model characterized by an increasing number of interventions and fewer invasive procedures in the cath lab.

Another element of the state-of-the-art approach — integration among modality, information technology and storage solutions — reduces the need for image storage and enables anytime/anywhere availability of current and historical images, Rizer says.

The state-of-the-art cath lab achieves these benefits by balancing multiple imaging and image and data management solutions. The recipe for success includes:

  • Direct digital imaging equipment
  • A dedicated cardiac archive
  • Multiple lead hemodynamic monitoring systems with a network-based archive interfaced to the hospital information system(s)
  • Online access to images for referring clinicians and specialists
  • Ability to transfer images to PACS for diagnostic quality review throughout the health system
  • Ability to create DICOM CDs and the integrated cardiac record

The proactive approach

The common theme among state-of-the-art cath labs may be their fidelity to the future. The average cath lab lifespan is six or seven years, so it’s important to invest in flexible, upgradeable solutions “We looked for the most advanced equipment that could take us into the future,” says Rizer. On the imaging side, that meant Siemens Medical Solutions AXIOM Artis digital flat-panel system. The cath lab selected Witt Biomedical Corporation’s CALYSTO for cardiology enterprise solution, which includes the Series IV Physiomonitoring and Information System, Image IV Cardiology Image & Information Management System and WEBDV for secure access to imaging, data and reports via the internet.

The cardiovascular information system (CVIS) “complies with HIPAA [privacy] and other government regulations, handles data collection, statistics and querying and integrates with the most current and advanced equipment, and it can be expanded to take us into the future.”

That future flexibility is key for the for-profit cath lab. “Cardiac cath scanning and MRI is the big buzz right now. As these technologies develop, we anticipate the need to evaluate our capabilities [and] position ourselves for operational growth,” explains Rizer. The Heart Lab includes a shell to expand to an additional lab, which will provide the necessary space for future operational needs.

In the interim, the CVIS and digital cath lab serve the lab’s financial and patient care needs very well. CALYSTO can hold up to 100,000 physiological/hemodynamic cases. Images can be stored indefinitely on the CVIS, which represents a cost-savings as the lab no longer burns images onto CDs for storage. Historical images are easily accessed; the system allows users to actively view images from multiple admissions on one screen.

Similarly, The Richard M. Ross Heart Hospital was built with an eye on the future. The lab relies on GE Healthcare’s Innova digital detectors and Centricity PACS. EP suites are equipped with InfiMed’s Inc.’s Platinum One cardiac system. The cath lab area