Medical Imaging Software Improves Workflow Processes Dramatically


Medical Imaging Case Study In any busy hospital setting, workflow processes are critical to efficient communications and quality patient outcomes. State-of-the-art medical imaging software allows hospitals to manage diagnostic imaging across the enterprise. Parkland Health and Hospital System proved this premise when management decided to rebuild from the inside out as it began plans for a new facility.

This Dallas-based hospital employs approximately 60 radiologists, 62 residents and 19 fellows and is the University of Texas-Southwestern’s teaching hospital. As Parkland began its journey to enter the high-tech world of communications systems, they had five different picture and archiving communication systems (PACS). To say that their diagnostic imaging needed an upgrade would be an understatement.

Critical Workflow Improvements Needed

The administration identified three critical issues needed to improve internal communications:

  1. System instability
  2. Cumbersome workflow
  3. Delays due to image retrieval, transfer and loading

While PACS technology was in place, the five systems were spread over obstetrics, cath lab, echo lab, ultrasound and radiology, requiring multiple system sign-ons and made scalability difficult. The radiology department was burdened with a particularly out dated PACS, limiting workflow and stability capabilities.

“System uptime hovered around 60%, and we had trouble adding end users, “ said Maviea Easter, manager of diagnostic imaging and informatics at Parkland. “The system was so clunky; in fact, radiologists sometimes just went back to doing things manually or were forced to create workarounds in their workflow.”

As an academic institution, information retrieval of studies, reports and exams was especially critical. Slow load time created an inefficient process which led to high frustration levels. When you consider that the hospital was accessing over one million studies, it’s apparent that Parkland’s existing workflow management was unsound.

“The load time was very slow for larger studies, making you cringe if you had to close and reopen the exam. Often you had to wait while prior studies were retrieved manually from the archive,” said Travis Browning, M.D., Parkland’s director of radiology informatics and assistant professor at UT Southwestern.

Medical Imaging Software to the Rescue

The newly installed medical imaging software created a PACS driven workflow which allowed users to launch a variety of applications, including the study worklist, dictation system, peer reviews, RIS and EMR. Studies sent from the scanner are immediately seen and available on the worklist.

Prior reports and comparison exams are displayed and easy to browse, allowing radiologists to interpret and dictate findings quickly and sign the report electronically.

This streamlined process also helps Parkland comply with the meaningful use requirements of federal stimulus funding because the report is available in the EMR almost in real time.

Nothing Succeeds Like Success

Since implementing the PACS workflow, Parkland has seen

  • 97% decrease in image retrieval time
  • 56% improvement in Image transfer time for studies with more than 1,000 images
  • 34% decrease in report turnaround time
  • 0% imaging system outages

“With McKesson PACS, we can see more, better and faster,” said Browning. “Study loading is quicker. Finding cases is easier. Integration of digital dictation, electronic peer review and EMR software is smoother, and, most importantly, interpretation and diagnosis is accelerated.”

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