Why a 3D lab?
Communication is the core reasoning behind setting up a 3D lab, according to Matthew A. Barish, MD, of Brigham and Women's Hospital who presented Setting up a 3D lab on Friday.
When a radiologist needs to communicate information about a very complex set of images to a physician, for example, the rotational view of an object via 3D imaging is extremely useful and efficient, providing for diagnosis, detection and characterization otherwise not possible, said Barish.
Essentially, a 3D lab is a "centralization of functions" in a single location regarding equipment, personnel, and also most controversially, authority. Consolidating authority includes a number of possible political ramifications that have to be addressed. But, Barish emphasized, it's worth it in the end not just for the workflow and diagnostic reasons, but also because a hospital has the potential for increased profits due to a larger capacity for procedures, including referrals.
There are a number of complexities and issues involved in setting up a 3D lab, part of which are technological since PACS often is not equipped to read the kinds of data used for 3D imaging. Also, there are a number of financial models (i.e. hospital-owed or physician-owned) that have to be considered before adoption, Barish said.
In the end, the organizational structure may be the most vital part to ensure success. Barish suggested a model which included a physician director with overall responsibility, a lab manager to oversee day-to-day operations, and finally, and most importantly, a 3D technologist responsible for actual imaging processing.