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Q&A with Matt Costa, lead CT technologist at UCSD Medical Center

by Loren Bonner, DOTmed News Online Editor | May 29, 2013

DMN: What did you notice immediately from the data? What improvements has it led to?
MC: I can now see in real-time what each scanner is doing. iCenter shows me in graph-form when the patient is on the table and the exact minute that an exam starts and ends. It allows me to physically spot holes when certain machines aren't being used and spot any timing problems or patterns as they arise.

In one facility, I noticed that a scan that normally takes between five and 10 minutes was taking an average of 20 minutes. Using the data from iCenter, I saw that technicians were devoting an extra ten or sometimes 15 minutes to get patients' IVs' started. Knowing that information, I added a nurse to that site to help with IVs. Because of making that small change, the scan times dropped back to between five and 10 minutes.

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DMN: Have you noticed that patients are more satisfied?
MC: There have been less complaints about wait times from the patients and the ordering physicians who need the results to schedule follow-ups. Also, our current backlog has been reduced to one or two days compared to the previous eight. We are also comfortably scheduling patients three days after the order is placed to give us time to get pre-authorization.

DMN: Why is workflow so important in health care today, especially imaging?
MC: In a nutshell, workflow is the key to keeping my department open and financially sound. We have many people to accommodate, including patients, ordering physicians, radiologists, and the technologists themselves. Monitoring our productivity and scheduling is directly tied to how well we serve patients, help the ordering physicians to treat them and ensure that our resources are being wisely utilized.

On a broader scale, with an estimated 32 million new patients entering the health care system under the Affordable Care act, it's particularly important that hospitals mobilize to treat the growing volume of patients without sacrificing quality of care. From my perspective, the first step in accomplishing that end is getting critical data about the use of systems to ensure that existing resources -- including physical space, infrastructure, staff, and equipment -- are being used most efficiently.

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