Streamlining Portable Radiography Efficiency: HUP

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Valerie Ciminera, a manager in radiology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP) in Philadelphia, describes the large facility as comparable to a small city, with a lot of ground to cover between buildings. The department of radiology at HUP uses 10 analog portable radiography systems to image an average of 225 inpatients per day at bedside, she says, and most of the studies are stat requests: Within 45 minutes, the technologist is required to go to the bedside, acquire the images, process them, and submit them for a radiologist’s review. “A large majority of the patient population is critically ill, so turnover time for these studies is time sensitive for diagnosis,” Ciminera notes. “Needless to say, our technologists are moving all day long.” Ciminera says that HUP is loyal to its current portable systems, some of which have been in service for more than 15 years. “Our portable units are a huge asset, due to the simple fact that they are so dependable—which is necessary, with our volume,” she says. The radiology department wanted to improve its bedside-radiography efficiency, with the ultimate aim of facilitating better patient care, but upgrading to portable DR systems, Ciminera notes, “would not be cost effective for an institution of this size.” Digital Workflow A compromise presented itself to Ciminera in the form of the Vmotion digital-conversion kit from iCRco, which HUP launched as a trial on one of its portable radiography systems in July 2012. “The conversion kit consists of a computer and processor, which attach to the existing analog system,” Ciminera explains. “The installation is as simple as removing the film bin and attaching the kit. The technologist has access to the patient worklist right at his or her fingertips.” At the bedside, the image processing, verification, and transfer are all performed, after which, Ciminera says, “The image is immediately available to view for the referring clinician while in the patient’s room, or for the radiologist to interpret.” The compromise afforded by the use of the Vmotion kit has enabled the radiology department to provide better patient care more efficiently, Ciminera says. “The Vmotion unit has been the solution for our radiology section’s need for both efficiency and quality, without the high costs associated with digital systems,” she observes. “I have a staff of 40 technologists, and they all agree that this streamlines their workflow and takes some pressure off, with regard to time-sensitive studies.” The improvement in technologist workflow when using the Vmotion solution is considerable, Ciminera says. “Although I am still collecting data to quantify just how much time is shaved off the entire process, my guess is at least 25 minutes, from start to finish—which is pretty significant,” she says. The physical aspect of the job has also improved; she reports, “It’s no longer necessary for the technologists to carry around heavy cassettes. With Vmotion, they can image an entire patient-care unit with one cassette, sending the images wirelessly to PACS, in real time. That translates into more time that can be spent with patients.” She adds that the image quality offered by the Vmotion kit has received rave reviews as well. “The intention, in trying this technology, was geared toward efficiency,” she says, “and what we found was an improvement in image quality as well. We got two for one.” Further Streamlining Another advantage of the Vmotion solution is the ease with which radiology-department staff members were able to adapt to using it, Ciminera says. “iCRco spent a week orienting the staff and sat with radiologists to tweak the algorithms and ensure that all of them were satisfied with the image quality,” she says. “The training itself was basic: After they trained a half-dozen of our technologists, those technologists were able to train the rest of the staff in a few hours.” Since then, Ciminera says, iCRco has helped HUP customize the product to meet its needs. “We have offered suggestions on what we would like to see and have watched the transitions; this has almost become a custom product for us,” she says. “I am impressed with how attentive this company has been. It responds immediately to any need we have. It is critical for us to have these units up and running at all times, and iCRco has been great at helping us make that happen.” As a result, Ciminera has submitted a request for four additional Vmotion units, which would bring the portion of her department’s portable radiography systems using Vmotion to half. “The imaging part and the technical part are the same concept as DR—just a lot cheaper. This was a no-brainer,” Ciminera says. “I’ve been very satisfied and am looking forward to converting all of our units to Vmotion.” Cat Vasko is editor of and associate editor of Radiology Business Journal.