Making Work Flow

hiit040409.jpgWhen you increase volume, you have to change the way you work. I know all about that as a Mom of five boys ranging from 17 months to 12 years — with the last three added in five years. Things operate much differently than when I had two kids — busy days start early, end late, lots of schedules, activities, sports, play dates, and appointments to synchronize, infinite details to follow. So where’s my tie-in? Workflow. Working smoothly and maximizing time and resources is all about making work — and life — flow.

Multislice CT, 64-slice in particular, is imaging’s hungry quintuplets packaged as large data sets crying for efficient post-processing, image evaluation, reporting and storage. The loop from the referring physician’s order through report delivery needs to be increasingly speedy and high quality. A one-day turnaround is now expected.  Impossible, unless you’ve perfected your workflow.

The big family of CT is getting bigger. The installed base of multislice CT scanners number in the thousands (as do the number of images per study they create — from 1,000 to 4,000, depending on the study) — with North American installs projected to grow 110 percent this year in a market estimated at about $2.25 billion. Placement of 64-slice scanners in particular are surging at hospitals, imaging centers, clinics and private practices — namely in cardiology which is seeing growth of about 165 percent and is becoming a larger piece of the CT installs, representing about 12 percent in 2006, while radiology holds an 80 percent share and oncology makes up the remaining 8 percent, according to industry estimates.

Volumetric reading is now the name of the game — but according to “Preparing Your CT Workflow for the Multislice Data Deluge,” the strategy of getting there requires: the right scanner and software, a powerful PACS, hiring and educating super-techs, a 3D lab to get physicians out of post-processing tasks, mastering clinical applications to maximize usage, and utilizing standardized protocols. And be sure your reading room is helping the process too with tips from “Anatomy of the Digital Reading Room.”

In the future we’ll see more automated software for post-processing and interpreting data volumes. No more slices, and little human interaction prior to diagnosis. But in the meantime, it’s all about fine-tuning workflow. Orchestrating technology, physicians, staff and patients takes a great strategy (and raising five kids takes a village.)