Rethinking Medical Imaging in Hospitals

2011-04-03
 

Medical Imaging

St. Vincent Health in St. Louis is showing that medical imaging in hospitals and outpatient facilities can be improved.

St Vincent Health provides medical imaging services at 13 hospitals and six freestanding outpatient imaging clinics. Eleven hospitals perform imaging services on an inpatient and outpatient basis, while two hospitals have only inpatient imaging services.

For many years, they have operated what might be called a “standard” medical imaging model: maximize outpatient use of radiology equipment so as to maximize revenue.

As medical imaging has become more common, however, this has amounted to inefficiencies for inpatient use as well as outpatient dissatisfaction. Most outpatients, notes Gary Fammartino, system executive for ambulatory services at St. Vincent, simply don’t want to go to a hospital for an image, even if that’s where the equipment is located.

They don’t like being in a hospital, and they don’t like the frequent delays in service when a hospital patient moves to the front of the line due to an emergency.

In order to move more medical imaging services to outpatient centers – where, it should be noted, the overall cost of providing medical care is cheaper than in a hospital – St. Vincent Health has done the following:

  • Use zip codes to determine if existing outpatient medical imaging clinics are conveniently located near sizeable patient populations and to consider sites for expansion of outpatient services
  • Partner with other medical imaging providers to give patients more outpatient options
  • Started the self-evaluations required for instigating “lean processing” at outpatient centers and system wide
  • Purchase at least 80% of capital equipment from one vendor, making training easier and improving efficiency by enabling medical imaging professionals to easily do work at a number of different clinics
  • Hold quarterly meetings with medical imaging directors at the outpatient facilities, sharing best practices and figuring out way to more effectively utilize equipment system wide

Fammartino notes that organizing and maximizing medical imaging services is an ongoing challenge.

The full Radiology Business Journal article on St. Vincent Health is available here.

Providing quality healthcare for the largest population, and largest aging population to date, will continue to require innovation both in technology and process. Continue visiting MedicalImagingTalk.com to stay up-to-date on all things related to medical imaging.

 

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