Radiology workflow and patient volume: Effect of picture archiving and communication systems on technologists and radiologists
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This study was performed to evaluate the changes in workflow and efficiency in various clinical settings in the radiology department after the introduction of a picture archiving and communication system (PACS). Time and motion data were collected when conventional image management was used, and again after the introduction of a PACS. Changes in the elapsed time from examination request until the image dispatch to the radiologist, and from dispatch until report dictation, were evaluated. The relationship between patient volume and throughput was evaluated. The time from examination request until dispatch was significantly longer after the introduction of PACS for examinations taken on patients from the emergency department (ED) (pre-PACS, 20 minutes; post-PACS, 25 minutes;P<.0001), and for examinations taken on patients in the medical intensive care unit (MICU) (pre-PACS, 34 minutes; post-PACS, 42 minutes;P<.0001). The interval from image dispatch until report dictation shortened significantly after the introduction of PACS in the ED (pre-PACS, 38 minutes; post-PACS, 23 minutes;P<.0001) and in the outpatient department (OPD) (pre-PACS, 38 minutes; post-PACS, 20 minutes;P<.0001). Simple least squares regression showed a significant relationship between daily patient volume and the daily median time until report dictation (F=43.42,P<.001). PACS slowed technologists by prolonging the quality-control procedure. Radiologist workflow was shortened or not affected. Efficiency is dependent on patient volume, and workflow improvements are due to a shift from batch to on-line reading that is enabled by the ability of PACS to route enough examinations to keep radiologists fully occupied.
KeywordsDispatch Compute Radiography Medical Intensive Care Unit Patient Volume Reading Room
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