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Diagnostic imaging

Calgary clinic installs wireless Digital Radiography

CALGARY – Radiology Consultants Associated (RCA) is one of the first healthcare providers in Canada to implement the new Carestream DRX-1 and Carestream DRX-1 Evolution Systems. This private radiologist group operates 12 independent diagnostic imaging centres that offer a site-specific combination of general x-ray, mammography, ultrasound, CT, MRI, fluoroscopy, nuclear imaging, echocardiography and myocardial perfusion exams.

RCA installed the wireless, cassette-size DRX-1 system in one of its busiest locations, an imaging clinic in the Crowfoot Business Centre in Northwest Calgary. The clinic performs up to 20,000 general radiology imaging exams a year with two x-ray rooms. Referral volumes increase every year and the clinic’s staff struggles to keep up with demand from the area’s general practitioners, orthopedists and other specialists, notes Mark Sevcik, RCA’s Operations and Development Director.

“We knew we needed to significantly increase workflow, but it did not make good business sense to install a new DR suite since our existing x-ray systems were in perfect working condition. Replacing the x-ray systems would have required very costly renovations and significant downtime. We were won over by the rapid installation of the DRX-1 system and its ability to improve productivity without replacing our buckys or x-ray systems,” he explained.

Based on the RCA group’s experience with a tethered DR system in one clinic, the staff believes the DRX-1 system is easier to use, in addition to being more cost effective. “The DRX-1 detector fits right into existing buckys and avoids the need for a tether, which is cumbersome and can limit patient positioning. The new detector is also lightweight, which is a benefit for technologists, and it’s very slender, which helps enhance comfort during patient positioning. When you combine all of those attributes with rapid, wireless communication and an affordable price, it’s a very compelling solution,” Sevcik explains.

RCA ordered a dual-detector system, so one detector resides in the wall stand and the other in the table. This reduces the need to move the detector, which simultaneously enhances productivity and improves ergonomics. The new DR technology has boosted staff productivity by up to 25% and simultaneously reduced patient wait times, according to Debbie Coppens, RCA’s Quality Assurance Manager. The detector in the table bucky is removed for extremity, cross table, wheelchair patients and other complex studies.

Workflow for DR Images
Each image captured on the DRX-1 detector is securely transmitted to the operator console via a Carestream Health wireless point-to-point network. The patient image is available on the DRX-1 imaging console in about five seconds for the technologist to review and approve. After approval, the patient image is automatically sent over the local area network to predetermined destinations including the PACS, workstations and printers. The DRX-1 imaging console comes standard with DICOM store and worklist management software to easily integrate with any RIS and PACS.

“The flexibility of the DRX-1 detector is superior to any other available DR system. We now enjoy the positioning ease offered by CR, along with the improved speed and higher image quality afforded by DR technology,” Coppens reports.

The DRX-1 system was installed in the morning, technologist training took about 30 minutes and patient imaging began the same afternoon. “I was skeptical that an imaging system could be implemented this quickly, but our technologists were using the system the same day it was installed,” said Sevcik.

Carestream Health’s user interface for its CR and DR platforms is consistent, so it was a smooth transition for RCA technologists since they already use the company’s CR systems.

New DRX-Evolution Can Perform All Imaging Exams
After installing the DRX-1 system, the RCA staff attended RSNA 2009 where they viewed a demonstration of the new DRX-Evolution. “Our jaws were on the floor,” said Sevcik. “This integrated, automated DR suite delivers enhanced versatility due to the unmatched positioning flexibility offered by the DRX-1 detectors. It is also much more cost effective than other DR systems.”

RCA immediately ordered a DRX-Evolution for its Castleridge Plaza clinic in Northeast Calgary. In this location a single x-ray room currently performs 15,000 exams a year. The site cannot be expanded to add another x-ray room, so this system will help the staff increase productivity over the coming years.

“We have experienced a steady increase in patients since we opened the clinic in 2006 and we expect to see continued growth. The DRX-Evolution is the ideal solution because it can perform every type of imaging exam and will help us adeptly handle the anticipated expansion in referral volumes,” he notes.

Sevcik adds that the DRX-Evolution is designed to maximize productivity and efficiency and is the perfect solution for an imaging location that is going to rely upon one exam room. “Fixed detector systems perform most, but not all, types of imaging exams. This newly designed DR suite can handle every imaging exam because of the unique DRX-1 detectors. This single system has everything we need for a highly productive, diverse imaging workflow.”

Installation of the DRX-Evolution is scheduled for March. RCA will also implement a second DRX-1 system in its new Aspen Landing clinic this spring.

Published February 11,2010