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2.  An Online Evidence-Based Decision Support System for Distinguishing Benign from Malignant Vertebral Compression Fractures by Magnetic Resonance Imaging Feature Analysis 
Journal of Digital Imaging  2010;24(3):507-515.
Decision support systems have been used to promote the practice of evidence-based medicine. Computer-assisted diagnosis can serve as one element of evidence-based radiology. One area where such tools may provide benefit is analysis of vertebral compression fractures (VCFs), which can be a challenge in MRI interpretation. VCFs may be benign or malignant in etiology, and several MRI features may help to make this important distinction. We describe a web-based decision support system for discriminating benign from malignant VCFs as a prototype for a more general diagnostic decision support framework for radiologists. The system has three components: a feature checklist with an image gallery derived from proven reference cases, a prediction model, and a reporting mechanism. The website allows users to input the findings for a case to be interpreted using a structured feature checklist. The image gallery complements the checklist, for clarity and training purposes. The input from the checklist is then used to calculate the likelihood of malignancy by a logistic regression prediction model. Standardized report text is generated that summarizes pertinent positive and negative findings. This computer-assisted diagnosis system demonstrates the integration of three areas where diagnostic decision support can aid radiologists: first, in image interpretation, through feature checklists and illustrative image galleries; second, in feature-based prediction modeling; and third, in structured reporting. We present a diagnostic decision support tool that provides radiologists with evidence-based guidance for discriminating benign from malignant VCF. This model may be useful in other difficult-diagnosis situations and requires further clinical testing.
PMCID: PMC3092053  PMID: 20680384
Decision support; computer-assisted diagnosis; compression fracture; magnetic resonance imaging; structured reporting
3.  Picture Archiving and Communication System and its Impact on Image Viewing in Physical Therapy Practice 
Journal of Digital Imaging  2006;19(4):346-350.
Imaging plays an increasing role in physical therapy (PT) practice. We sought to determine if picture archiving and communication system (PACS) deployment would increase the proportion of imaging studies viewed by physical therapists (PTs) at the point of care and to assess PTs' perception of the value of access to imaging information. The study was performed in a 720-bed urban teaching hospital where an average of 2,000 rehabilitation visits per month are performed by 12 PTs. We compared the proportion of imaging studies viewed by PTs before and after PACS implementation. We surveyed PTs to assess their perception on the value of access to imaging studies. Film library records pre-PACS and web server audit trail post-PACS implementation were reviewed to measure access. Chi-square was used to compare proportions and trends. During the 3-month period before PACS usage, PTs viewed 1% (6/505) of imaging studies, citing time as the primary barrier. Post-PACS, the proportion of imaging studies viewed rose from 28% (95/344, second month) to 84% (163/192, fifth month) (p < 0.0001, chi-square). Most PTs believed that access to imaging studies has high value and has a positive impact on clinical practice. Physical therapists rarely viewed imaging studies before PACS due to time barriers. They viewed more imaging studies (84%) post-PACS and felt that access to imaging studies has a positive impact on clinical practice. Further studies are needed to assess whether PACS enhances PTs' clinical decision making and improves patient outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3045163  PMID: 16826336
Evidence-based practice; PACS; Filmless; Physical therapy
4.  SCAR Radiologic Technologist Survey: Analysis of the Impact of Digital Technologies on Productivity  
Journal of Digital Imaging  2002;15(3):132-140.
As medical reimbursements continue to decline, increasing financial pressures are placed upon medical imaging providers. This burden is exacerbated by the existing radiologic technologist (RT) crisis, which has caused RT salaries to trend upward. One strategy to address these trends is employing technology to improve technologist productivity. While industry-wide RT productivity benchmarks have been established for film-based operation, little to date has been published in the medical literature regarding similar productivity measures for filmless operation using PACS. This study was undertaken to document the complex relationship between technologist productivity and implementation of digital radiography and digital information technologies, including PACS and hospital/radiology information systems (HIS/RIS). A nationwide survey was conducted with 112 participating institutions, in varying degrees of digital technology implementation. Technologist productivity was defined as the number of annual exams performed per technologist full-time equivalent (FTE). Productivity analyses were performed among the different demographic and technology profile groups, with a focus on general radiography, which accounts for 65-70% of imaging department volumes. When evaluating the relationship between technologist productivity and digital technology implementation, improved productivity measures were observed for institutions implementing HIS/RIS, modality worklist, and PACS. The timing of PACS implementation was found to have a significant effect on technologist productivity measures, with an initial 10.8% drop in productivity during the first year of PACS implementation, followed by a 27.8% increase in productivity beyond year one. This suggests there is a "PACS learning curve" phenomenon, which should be considered when institutions are planning for PACS implementation.
PMCID: PMC3613256  PMID: 12481227
5.  SCAR Radiologic Technologist Survey: Analysis of Technologist Workforce and Staffing  
Journal of Digital Imaging  2002;15(3):121-131.
One of the greatest dilemmas facing medical imaging departments today is the worsening personnel crisis in the radiologic technologist (RT) workforce. As the volume and complexity of medical imaging studies continues to increase, an unprecedented imbalance exists between RT supply and demand. A number of etiologic factors have been postulated to contribute to this RT shortage including decreasing morale, perceived inadequacies in compensation, decreasing number of training programs, and limitations in the career ladder. Previous studies have cited improved technologist productivity as imaging departments successfully transition from film-based to filmless operation. This study was undertaken to address the impact of digital technologies (information systems, PACS, digital radiography) on technologist productivity, in an attempt to determine whether these technologies can be used to positively affect the existing RT workforce imbalance. A total of 112 facilities participated in this nationwide study, with representation of imaging providers that paralleled the demographic profile of the marketplace as a whole. Survey results indicate the existing RT staffing shortage is greatest within academic and rural-based hospitals and is most severe in the area of general radiography, which accounts for 65-70% of imaging department volumes. For general radiography alone, respondents report an average shortage of 2 RT full-time equivalents (FTE's) per institution, when comparing the number of budgeted RT FTE's versus the actual number of RT FTE's. Preliminary results indicate that at this time, RT staffing shortages are not affected by the presence or absence of digital information technologies. Additional research is planned through a five-year longitudinal data collection, to better delineate the complex relationship that exists between implementation of digital technologies and RT staffing.
PMCID: PMC3613259  PMID: 12481226
6.  Workflow Optimization: Current Trends and Future Directions  
Journal of Digital Imaging  2002;15(3):141-152.
In an attempt to maximize productivity within the medical imaging department, increasing importance and attention is being placed on workflow. Workflow is the process of analyzing individual steps that occur during a single event, such as the performance of an MRI exam. The primary focus of workflow optimization within the imaging department is automation and task consolidation, however, a number of other factors should be considered including the stochastic nature of the workload, availability of human resources, and the specific technologies being employed. The purpose of this paper is to determine the complex relationship that exists between information technology and the radiologic technologist, in an attempt to determine how workflow can be optimized to improve technologist productivity. This relationship takes on greater importance as more imaging departments are undergoing the transition from film-based to filmless operation. A nationwide survey was conducted to compare technologist workflow in film-based and filmless operations, for all imaging modalities. The individual tasks performed by technologists were defined, along with the amount of time allocated to these tasks. The index of workflow efficiency was determined to be the percentage of overall technologist time allocated to image acquisition, since this is the primary responsibility of the radiologic technologist. Preliminary analysis indicates technologist workflow in filmless operation is enhanced when compared with film-based operation, for all imaging modalities. The specific tasks that require less technologist time in filmless operation are accessing data and retake rates (due to both technical factors and lost exams). Surprisingly, no significant differences were reported for the task of image processing, when comparing technologist workflow in film-based and filmless operations. Additional research is planned to evaluate the potential workflow gains achievable through workflow optimization software, improved systems integration, and automation of advanced image processing techniques.
PMCID: PMC3613260  PMID: 12481228
7.  Modality interfacing: The impact of a relay station 
Journal of Digital Imaging  2000;13(Suppl 1):88-92.
We evaluated the effect of a deploying a relay station on demographic discrepancies, image segmentation for routing, quality control (QC), and technologist workflow in a distributed architecture type picture archiving and communication system (PACS) environment. A currently existing PACS environment for computed tomography (CT) was evaluated before and after the implementation of a relay station for demographic error-rate and correct study routing to the workstations. Assessment of the technologists’ perceptions with respect to numerous workflow factors was performed with a questionnaire. Statistical analysis was performed using a chi-square test. The demographic error rate for CT examinations was nearly abolished with relay station deployment (14.0% pre-Relayv 0.55% post-Relay,P<.001, χ2). The technologists’ perception was favorable, with a substantial majority indicating that a positive impact is made on correcting demographic errors (90%), facilitating QC (67%), and ensuring proper routing (77%). A majority also felt the user interface was intuitive (93.3%) and preferred relay (90%) over film handling but that training should be provided both by didactic sessions and “hands on” time with a trainer. The times to perform tasks were favorable for the relay station (1 to 5 minutes) versus film production and handling (2 to 15 minutes). In conclusion, the relay station prospectively eliminates demographic errors, effectively segments images from the same study routing them to different workstations, and can be seamlessly integrated into the technologists’ current workflow. This can be scalable and a lower cost solution as opposed to deploying dedicated PACS QC workstations. *** DIRECT SUPPORT *** A00RM031 00006
PMCID: PMC3453233  PMID: 10847371
8.  Process reengineering: The role of a planning methodology and picture archiving and communications system team building 
Journal of Digital Imaging  1999;12(Suppl 1):28-31.
The acquisition of a picture archiving and communications system (PACS) is an opportunity to reengineer business practices and should optimally consider the entire process from image acquisition to communication of results. The purpose of this presentation is to describe the PACS planning methodology used by the Department of Defense (DOD) Joint Imaging Technology Project Office (JITPO), outline the critical procedures for each phase, and review the military experience using this model. The methodology is segmented into four phases: strategic planning, clinical scenario planning, installation planning, and implementation planning. Each is further subdivided based on the specific tasks that need to be accomplished within that phase. By using this method, an institution will have clearly defined program goals, objectives, and PACS requirements before vendors are contacted. The development of an institution-specific PACS requirement should direct the process of proposal comparisons to be based on functionality and exclude unnecessary equipment. This PACS planning methodology is being used at more than eight DOD medical treatment facilities. When properly executed, this methodology facilitates a seamless transition to the electronic environment and contributes to the successful integration of the healthcare enterprise. A crucial component of this methodology is the development of a local PACS planning team to manage all aspects of the process. A plan formulated by the local team is based on input from each department that will be integrating with the PACS. Involving all users in the planning process is paramount for successful implementation.
PMCID: PMC3452930  PMID: 10342159
9.  Large-scale PACS implementation 
Journal of Digital Imaging  1998;11(Suppl 1):3-7.
The transition to filmless radiology is a much more formidable task than making the request for proposal to purchase a (Picture Archiving and Communications System) PACS. The Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration have been pioneers in the transformation of medical diagnostic imaging to the electronic environment. Many civilian sites are expected to implement large-scale PACS in the next five to ten years. This presentation will relate the empirical insights gleaned at our institution from a large-scale PACS implementation. Our PACS integration was introduced into a fully operational department (not a new hospital) in which work flow had to continue with minimal impact. Impediments to user acceptance will be addressed. The critical components of this enormous task will be discussed. The topics covered during this session will include issues such as phased implementation, DICOM (digital imaging and communications in medicine) standard-based interaction of devices, hospital information system (HIS)/radiology information system (RIS) interface, user approval, networking, workstation deployment and backup procedures. The presentation will make specific suggestions regarding the implementation team, operating instructions, quality control (QC), training and education. the concept of identifying key functional areas is relevant to transitioning the facility to be entirely on line. Special attention must be paid to specific functional areas such as the operating rooms and trauma rooms where the clinical requirements may not match the PACS capabilities. The printing of films may be necessary for certain circumstances. The integration of teleradiology and remote clinics into a PACS is a salient topic with respect to the overall role of the radiologists providing rapid consultation. A Webbased server allows a clinician to review images and reports on a desk-top (personal) computer and thus reduce the number of dedicated PACS review workstations. This session will focus on effective strategies for a seamless transition. Critical issues involve maintaining a good working relationship with the vendor, cultivating personnel readiness and instituting well-defined support systems. Success depends on the ability to integrate the institutional directives, user expectations and available technologies. A team approach is mandatory for success.
PMCID: PMC3453381  PMID: 9735422

Results 1-9 (9)