Integrating digital systems: commitment and collaboration.Radiol Manage. 2004 May-Jun; 26(3):28-30.RM
One year ago, the radiology department at Ball Memorial Hospital, a 350-bed facility in Muncie, IN, was completely film-based. The need to support a new all-digital, 35-room emergency department (ED) hastened the facility's transition to a digital environment. Today, with the exception of mammography, the hospital's imaging services are now digital. To develop and implement the project, the hospital formed an internal implementation team. An independent consultant was also hired to evaluate the impact of these new technologies and to provide an estimated cost payback. After research, site visits, and vendor demonstrations, the hospital selected a single vendor for its picture archiving and communication system (PACS), digital radiography (DR), computed radiography (CR), and overall project management. The DR system was installed in the ED to provide digital image capture for a full range of trauma exams. The ED also initially began utilizing a Web-based PACS distribution originally implemented for after-hours teleradiology. The majority of the hospital's imaging studies are captured with 2 multi-cassette CR systems that serve 7 exam rooms in the radiology department. The hospital also installed remote operations panels to expedite entry of patient and exam information. Technologists readily embraced both CR and DR systems. The Web distribution system now transmits images to hospital-based computers and to 150 remote referring physicians. The PACS platform automatically e-mails key images and radiology reports to referring physicians. Authorized physicians can also request reports and images on an as-needed basis. The PACS vendor had previously performed multiple integrations with the radiology information system (RIS) vendor; the integration of PACS and RIS was extremely smooth. One of the critical components of a successful conversion is experienced, dedicated management. The hospital retained professional project management services to facilitate implementation and to ensure adequate training for all users.