Genia Sutton, interim director of radiology, has seen the benefit to patients. “Five minutes is a lot of time if you are thinking you may have breast cancer,” she said. “Now, technologists aren’t as rushed. They can give a more personal touch because they can spend more time with their patients.”
When Cullman Regional Medical Center in Alabama decided to switch from 2-D to 3-D mammography, they knew they needed to update their PACS to support the change. The solution they found did far more than simply enable their radiologists to read 3-D images, though. By opting to add the capabilities of the Advanced Mammography package to Philips IntelliSpace PACS Radiology, Cullman radiologists now have a holistic view of a patient’s history at a single workstation.
The impact is notable: The Advanced Mammography package improved workflow, saved precious time for radiologists, technologists and patients, and created both cost and space efficiencies. “Before Advanced Mammography, our radiologists were constantly moving from the PACS reading workstation to the dedicated mammography reading workstation,” said Genia Sutton, Cullman consultant and acting director of radiology.
The interruptions in workflow affected patients as well as radiologists and technicians, often increasing their waiting time in what can be a stressful situation. “The problem is compounded when you have a diagnostic exam which requires a patient hold. The radiologist has to stop what he or she is doing, get up and walk over to another workstation to review the images. Meanwhile, the technologist is on standby and the patient waits a bit longer. With Advanced Mammography, radiologists can easily adjust their reading to breast imaging within one system,” Sutton said. “Because there is no longer the interruption caused by moving workstations, radiologists are more efficient, physicians get faster results, and patient satisfaction has improved because they have less waiting time.”
Saving Time for Radiologists and Patients
The Advanced Mammography package has made a big difference for Jonathon Davis, M.D., a general radiologist at Cullman. “In the past, if I was concerned about a finding on a mammogram and wanted to compare it to the patient’s previous studies from a sonogram or other modality, I would have to get up, walk across two different hallways to go to a separate workstation to access the patient’s history. Then I’d have to walk back to the main reading room, try to remember what I saw, pull up the data from the PACS system and try to match it,” he said.
With the Advanced Mammography package, the patient’s history is just a click away and, with dedicated hanging protocols that automate the display to his preferences, Davis is easily able to compare past studies using a single platform. “That lets me focus better. I can read images in a smoother fashion and a less harried pace. When reading images takes less time, patients have less waiting and less worry. That matters a great deal,” Davis said. Sutton, too, has seen the benefit to patients. “Five minutes is a lot of time if you are thinking you may have breast cancer,” she said. “Now, technologists aren’t as rushed. They can give a more personal touch because they can spend more time with their patients.”
The time saving and a reduction in the duplicate reading environments has proven valuable. “The time the radiologist spent moving from the PACS system to a mammography reading workstation really adds up,” Sutton said. “Having all the mammography reading tools in PACS removes this burden and makes the radiologists more productive. We would probably be able to add on one to two diagnostic mammograms per day from the time savings.”
With eight to 10 scans a day, that could add up to an hour saved. There are space savings as well. Without the need for a dedicated mammography reading workstation, organizations can make room for additional workstations. “We have used 3-D mammography as a marketing tool. We did mailers and billboards. We saw a spike in the number of patients we were seeing, which led to about 10 percent year-over-year growth,” Sutton continued.
Cullman is working with Philips to use these efficiencies as an important tool for growth. This is just one way that Cullman is partnering with Philips and benefiting from this long-term relationship.
Fewer Interruptions Mean Better Focus
For Davis, the benefits of the Advanced Mammography package go beyond saving time and steps. “When you are interpreting images, you use a different part of your brain than is used for reading reports. Switching between the two can get you out of your search pattern,” he explained. “You want to stay in the part of your brain that interprets images as long as you can with each patient. The great thing about the Advanced Mammography package is that I never have to look down at the keyboard or take my eyes off of the images to look at the patient file. I can navigate the format and access contrast and magnifications so my eyes never move away from the screen. The interaction with images is very natural and easy to work with. The interface is smooth and exceptionally robust, and its reliability is key.” The integrated system also allows Davis to go straight from reading a CT scan or MRI to a mammogram using the same monitor, without any delay or change in his reading patterns.
A Seamless Launch
Before using the Advanced Mammography package features, Philips professional services spent time with the Cullman radiologists to understand their workflow and help them create hanging protocols specific to their needs. Philips application consultants also came to the medical center to train the team before the new solution went live. When new employees come in now, they have to learn only one system instead of two.
Best of all, the launch was the smoothest Sutton has ever experienced. “I don’t know of any healthcare system I’ve implemented that did not have one hiccup. With Advanced Mammography, I never heard a complaint from one radiologist or anyone else,” she said. “I have put in a lot of systems and having zero issues is just unheard of. That to me was the best thing about this — not hearing any complaints is win-win. It was seamless.”
Along with IntelliSpace PACS Radiology with the Advanced Mammography package, customers must use an FDA-approved monitor that offers at least 5 megapixel resolution and meets other technical specifications as outlined in the Client Specifications.
Results from case studies are not predictive of results in other cases. Results in other cases may vary.