by Diana Bradley
, Staff Writer | January 20, 2012
From the January 2012 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
“When the public looks at the value proposition of CT scanning, it is critical to understand that the impact of the CT scan is very broad,” Rubin says.
Indoctrinating the doctors
Although the machines at Cedars-Sinai were functioning properly, the FDA found that improper use had resulted in the increased radiation doses. Fortunately, most companies that equip providers with CT equipment incorporate rigorous training programs and helpful resources.
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“You can innovate until the cows come home, but if the CT equipment is not utilized and implemented in the best way, it will mean nothing,” says Gungor. “Long hours of professional training are needed to ensure the tools are utilized in the correct way.”
Fishman adds that just because a scanner can give a low dose, doesn’t mean it is actually giving the low dose.
“It’s like getting a Ferrari,” Fishman says. “First you need to know how to drive a Ferrari.”
Toshiba’s customers learn the ropes through free online courses available on the company’s website. CT equipment user manuals, along with scan protocol guides and case studies also provide users with information on best practices. Another company, NeuroLogica, says it sends a clinical application specialist to train hospital technicians for free with the purchase of its CT equipment. Training can take up to two weeks and NeuroLogica aims to make sure everyone understands the CT device before training is completed.
Trends and advancements
Rapid technological advancements have been made in the CT market, particularly in the areas of cardiovascular diseases and cancer. But until recently, progression was stifled due to the modality’s negative publicity, according to Fishman.
“Many vendors felt paralyzed, wondering if they should continue to invest in CT,” he says. “People began to realize that CT impacts and saves lives every day; a corner was finally turned and now we are working on the safest ways to implement CT scans.”
CT systems’ advancements include increased speed and additional safety features; but the biggest trend has been the focus on dose reduction.
“More and more vendors are offering solutions to minimize dose and optimize image quality,” says Heather Pierce, sales and marketing manager for Computerized Imaging Reference Systems Inc., a phantom manufacturer.
Dose reduction technology enables the separation of noise from structure through mathematical algorithms; thereafter, relevant structures and clinical areas are separately enhanced, without simultaneously creating more noise. This results in a clearer image with better clinical visualization. According to GlobalData’s report, positive clinical evidence of the benefits of using low-dose CT systems on cancer patients is expected to further fuel the market’s growth.