A Q&A with Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital’s Director of Radiology, Stacy Johnson.
Working in a radiology department in California, how has SB1237 had an impact on your department and team?
In addition to all of the reporting requirements, SB1237 has really caused our entire organization to step back and evaluate all processes relating to dose, including how we scan and evaluate exam appropriateness as well as how our protocols compare against other facilities.
What steps did Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital (PIH) take to meet the requirements of this mandate? Was it a workflow change, technology change or a combination of the two?
Combination of both. With the implementation of the Radimetrics’ radiation dose monitoring and management technology our workflow was forced to change. Fortunately, we found that the change in workflow did not affect us negatively or create us to be any less efficient, part because of its seamless integration with our existing voice-enabled radiology reporting platform*.
*More on this technology integration can be found here.
Do you have any advice or best practices to share with other facilities that are, or will soon be, faced with this requirement?
Unfortunately, not quite yet. We are still so early in the process of data collection that the evaluation of best practice is still occurring. We believe our evaluation process will take another six to eight months and at this point we are considering bringing in an outside consulting company to help us sort through it all because it is so daunting and time consuming. As far as advice, I do have a lot to share with regards to what things facilities should think about when they’re ready to make the jump into considering what technology to move forward with or how to capture and report what’s required. My advice is as follows:
- Get your scanning techniques and equipment protocols organized and up to date. Make sure they are in a format that will be easily transferable to any vendor you partner with. This is the first step in validating where you compare to other organizations with regards to dose.
- When choosing a vendor to assist in the reporting of dose, if at all possible, try and contract with the vendor directly. It’s still such a new space that you’ll want to be working with the developers directly and not through a third party. I really believe this was a big advantage during our implementation.
- Don’t forget to think about things like patient demographic updates because you need to consider this when you are choosing what downstream system you’ll be interfaced with. For example, think about how you will report dose for double and triple studies.
- When there is downtime of any of the interfaced systems have a plan for how you will report dose in the interim.
These were just a few things we faced during implementation that required quick workarounds while considering what would be the best long term solutions.
With RSNA 2012 right around the corner, what do you think will be the three biggest trends at the show this year?
I’m sure dose is going to be a hot topic. With that comes lots of opportunity for vendors to market various products such as protocol management and controls on CT units. Right now most CT units allow anyone to edit or change protocols allowing the potential for over exposure, the CT manufacturers who offer tighter control of that process will be ahead of those who don’t. Along those same lines, those software applications that allow for low dose scanning but provide same resolution quality images that you currently see in higher dose scanning will be a big interest.
I think we’ll also see a lot of buzz around data mining companies (like Montage) that will allow for data import from multiple systems allowing a multitude of reporting and search features. A common theme in all departments and organizations is the number of systems containing important information with no way to bring the data together. Ultimately, you need to go to one system to run a report for this and another system to run a report for that and so on.
Finally, I believe that mammo tomosynthesis is going to be hot and what everyone will be wanting for the holidays this year.
Attending RSNA12? Be sure to stop by Nuance Healthcare booth #6217 in South Hall to learn more about PIH’s story, our data integrations with Radimetrics and Montage, just to name a few, and also catch a demo of our PowerScribe 360| Reporting platform.