by Lee Nelson
, Contributing Reporter | November 05, 2015
From the November 2015 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
With the advent of computed radiography (CR) over two decades ago, and wireless digital radiography (DR) about 15 years ago, things have continued to change for the better when it comes to radiography — especially in the large, busy facilities.
The speed of the procedures, the significant dose-reduction capabilities and better image quality are a few of the well-known benefits of digital X-rays. The vendors that make these systems and upgrades are continually working to improve them — so they’re more efficient, more robust, more portable — and hopefully, less expensive, enabling more facilities around the world to take advantage of their benefits.
“Since clinicians can now see images in less than five seconds, they can quickly assess a patient’s condition and begin appropriate treatment,” says Tim Sisco
, director of cardiovascular and imaging services at Houston Healthcare. “Instant access to high-quality (DR) images enables us to take a huge step forward in patient care, especially for acute care patients in our ER and ICU.”
The tortoise and the hare
Houston Healthcare performs over 160,000 diagnostic imaging procedures a year at its two hospitals, one outpatient imaging center, an X-ray room in a cancer center and three urgent care clinics. “About 60,000 are X-ray exams, and of those, 50,000 are DR and 10,000 are CR exams,” Sisco says. He remarked that recently he thought he needed a second X-ray room, but DR allowed him to double productivity through a single room and take care of double the number of patients.
“It is twice as productive without replacing or building a second X-ray room,” he says. Houston Healthcare chose Carestream to install a fully automated, dual-detector system in its busiest X-ray suite, that handles emergency department and general radiology exams. The hospital also converted two existing portable imaging systems with DR detectors.
“You can take the portable DR to the patient’s bedside, and it’s much faster than using a CR cassette. You don’t have to walk away to process it, and since you can see the image as soon as you take it, you know if you have to repeat the study right on the spot,” Sisco says. For trauma cases, he says DR is a huge improvement in patient care because it allows the physicians to make decisions while the patient is still on the gurney.