The Matrix of Metrics

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 - Mary C. Tierney
Mary C. Tierney

Most of the time we should ignore the headlines (especially the doom and gloom of late), put our heads down and move forward with gumption. I’m far from encouraging ostrich-like behavior, but daily news of economic slides and more CMS reimbursement cuts can overwhelm. We need to filter out what we need to act on in the short term versus planning strategically for the long term, then draft and navigate a plan. Like the certainty of death and taxes, people will continue to get sick. And we as an industry need to be here to diagnose, treat and care for them.

If you’re on the pulse of your business, staff, referring physicians and patients, you can feel the market and know the right move to make, the right technology to buy, location to open a center or when to increase or decrease operating hours. Let your shrewdness, boldness, enthusiasm and common sense take the lead.

But besides initiative and instinct, we need tools. Digital dashboards for PACS and RIS are dynamically guiding more radiology operations—for physicians, administrators and IT folk. To take the guesswork out of operations are metrics for consolidating clinical information at the point of care, autoloading and launching reading software, simplifying information display by clinical specialist and tracking critical test results reporting. They also assist in monitoring referral or workflow patterns and staff productivity and equipment utilization, watching collection efforts and keeping tabs on data loads and studies not being archived. Dashboards let the numbers judge success. Diagnostic Radiology Consultants of Chattanooga, Tenn., for example, has seen a 35 percent increase in radiologist efficiency since adding a dashboard that unites RIS, PACS and voice recognition. Check out more examples in this month’s cover story.

Computer-assisted detection also is moving out of its infancy (adolescence in the case of mammography) and becoming a productivity and clinical assuredness tool. We’re taking a closer look this month with four articles dedicated to mammography CAD, breast MR CAD, lung CAD and colon CAD. Mammography CAD, the granddaddy of sorts, is leading the charge with proof of increased breast cancer detection rates of 20+ percent. Breast MR CAD adds a great workflow advantage, analyzing kinetics in data sets of up to 3,000 images. Lung CAD and colon CAD alike are getting closer to day-to-day practice as well. Get past the headlines, take a read and move forward with gumption.