GE reading room eyes the future
Move over Star Trek -- the radiology reading room of the future is the focus of GE Healthcare's SCAR exhibit.

GE this week is showcasing its vision for the radiology reading room of 2015 that includes a climate-controlled cube with clear windows that become frosted (thanks to an imbedded LCD) with the touch of a switch; an ergonomically friendly reclining chair and footrest; RFID access via a cellphone or other portable device that automatically logs the radiologist into the necessary administrative and clinical systems; a touchpad that removes the ergonomic issues of too many clicks of the mouse; blue light that research is showing improves productivity; focused sound to remove the distraction of other radiologists' dictating and alleviate patient confidentiality issues; gesture recognition customized for a radiologist's workflow that minimizes movement and maximizes time;  and cutting-edge networking technology to facilitate communication. GE's vision shows the radiologist or other specialist automatically logged into the system, with a large screen showing a series of EMR tools that include a timeline, reports, images, labs, meds and biological analysis (to tailor meds and anesthesia to each patient). The system also provides a timeline of symptoms, specialist visits and scans and meds administered.

Back down on earth, GE is bringing the radiology reading room of the future to reality at Baltimore VA Medical Center. The reading room, which will include breakthrough developments for viewing images and ergonomic comfort, is a collaboration by GE, architects and ergonomic experts on the workflow habits of radiologists.

The new reading room occupies a centralized location at the medical center, where consolidated workstation design and create a comfortable environment for radiologists to work and collaborate.  The room relies on the integration of information systems and improved workstation ergonomics to create a functional reading environment that serves as part research center-part clinical working environment.

"A decade ago, the facility lead the industry by going filmless, and it's fitting the Baltimore VA Medical Center should have the most innovative reading room available, since it was also the first site to install GE's radiology PACS system 13 years ago," said Vishal Wanchoo, president and CEO, GE Healthcare Information Technologies. "GE worked closely with the facility and its architects to design the room, taking every facet of workflow into consideration."

GE also is previewing as a works in progress its Centricity Business Intelligence Portal. The radiology dashboard provides three sets of practical, tailored tools for radiologists, system administrators and radiology directors. The tools are focused on improving efficiency in reading images and running the department and systems. Some of the measured parameters include RVUs, unsigned reports, unread studies, average patient wait times and scanner utilization which includes total scans per day and per year and when service is scheduled. GE is developing the product along with Cincinnati Children's Hospital. Together, they are evaluating parameters such as establishing priorities according to patient acuity, patient wait times for imaging studies and the best methods for notifying physicians and administrators to resolve issues such as unsigned and unread studies as well as offering proactive support. The system administrator view, which GE calls PACS Doctor, is currently running at one site, while the whole suite is expected to be rolled out late this year.

GE also was showcasing its Centricity RIS/PACS products, including the Centricity PACS RA1000 with AW Suite for radiology, Centricity PACS CA1000 for cardiology, Centricity WEB, and Centricity RIS. The company said that 40 customers have now installed the 2.1 update to Centricity PACS.