According to a recent survey conducted by AHRA and The Market Tech Group1 Radiology Administrators are concerned about stabilizing operational costs, especially those related to staffing and recruiting.
Providing adequate time for CT and MRI technologists to spend with patients has always been a top priority for diagnostic imaging centers. Putting the patients mind at ease and making them as comfortable as possible has always been important, however running a close second is maximizing throughput of procedures on expensive modalities. Providing the flexibility for technologists to spend more time with patients and less time preparing studies for interpretation satisfies both goals for savvy administrators.
The study authors note there has been a significant rebound in diagnostic imaging volume, nearly back to pre-pandemic levels at times however there is a notable downside to that rebound. Not only are imaging centers extremely busy but many of the returning study volume is for more complex studies, requiring more patient preparation and patient time on the modalities. This may be attributed to the gap in care brought about by the pandemic, delaying procedures, exacerbating some conditions.
Trends such as these become even more burdensome on CT and MRI technologists as more complex studies often bring with them the need for extensive image post processing. Post processing can take a few minutes or over an hour; it is completed after the study has been acquired and the tasks are performed on expensive third party software. Distractions brought about by post processing can take away from the time technologists can spend with patients, which may ultimately lead to increased patient anxiety and sub-optimal modality throughput.
This is where outsourcing of routine and complex studies may solve part of the complex situation the imaging market currently finds itself in. Companies like Precision Image Analysis, (www.piamedical.com) provide a Cloud based solution to the time crunch put on CT and MRI technologists at busy diagnostic imaging centers. Precision Image Analysis has technologists standing by to assist busy centers with all their image post processing needs. In a typical workflow scenario, images are sent directly to the PIA Cloud from the modality. Once in the Cloud the studies are post processed by expert technologists employed by PIA. All studies are post processed to the exact specifications of individual reading radiologists and reports are returned directly to the PACS at the imaging center where they are used in the diagnostic interpretation of the patient study. In the PIA scenario all studies are QC checked with a double read prior to returning them to the client PACS. What’s more, the one of a kind PIA service can provide direct physician access to the study, including the FDA Cleared software used for the analysis in the PIA Cloud.
Companies such as PIA have additional benefits to the busy diagnostic imaging center keeping an eye on its bottom line and a focus on their ability to maintain themselves as a profit center. Third party software is expensive and requires expensive upgrades, annual service agreements and training expense. In a recent interview with Lee Mitsumori, MD, Straub Clinic and Hospital, Dr. Mitsumori noted, “For our practice, the advantage of using PIA was that we would not need to purchase vendor software and did not need to spend the time and resources to train personnel on its use”. Replacement of these costs with minimal out of pocket expense including a network gateway, PIA charges clients on a fee for service basis, clients pay for the studies that are post processed and returned to the PACS – no hidden fees, all costs are transparent and there are never any surprise invoices.
Staffing Costs a Concern for Radiology Admins in MICI Q3 Poll, Brian Casey, Auntminnie.com
About the author. Daniel D. Bickford (www.linkedin.com/in/daniel-bickford) is President of Pintail Strategic Consulting which provides sales and marketing services to the diagnostic imaging industry, including PIA. Daniel was co-founder of Confirma, Inc., the pioneer of the breast MRI CAD market and manufacturer of CADstream.