By Ron Muscosky

Maximizing the return on radiology equipment is always a priority—even more so now as the COVID-19 pandemic has created more demands on budgets, tools, and time. So, how does a facility improve productivity and efficiency? Is there a way to augment workflow? 

Let’s examine the answers to these questions to identify best practices to improve return on investment (ROI). Here are five ways to get the most out of your x-ray rooms and deliver improved patient satisfaction and safety along the way.

Best Practice #1: Use Radiology Equipment Features to Their Fullest

Ideally, radiology teams are making use of all the features available in existing x-ray equipment. Sometimes, however, departments overlook time-saving features that can help with efficient image capture. For example, software features that automatically complete a study upon acceptance of acquired images can save time. 

Also, single-screen workflows for fewer screen transitions, and custom configuration and automated controls, can translate into higher throughput and improvements in productivity and efficiency. Check in with your radiographers to see if they are making full use of features that can assist with expediting exams and delivering repeatable results.

Best Practice #2: Leverage New Time-Saving Features

In addition to equipment controls, medical imaging systems now come with cutting-edge features that use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithms. These AI-powered features that automate steps in workflow offer considerable time savings. AI-powered features also can assist with more consistent outcomes, whether related to position, technique, or collimation, ultimately reducing workload and boosting workflow—another step in maximizing return on investment. Carestream’s AI-based Smart DR Workflow, for instance, includes Smart Positioning, Smart Technique, and Smart Collimation.

Best Practice #3: Identify Opportunities for Quality Improvement

Radiology administrators can get insights on areas for improvement with appropriate software. For example, Carestream’s Administrative Analysis and Reporting Software provides a “digital dashboard”—a centralized information-management tool for continuous performance feedback to analyze results and develop improvement plans. This software option allows an administrator to monitor workflow patterns and trends in the radiology department by measuring performance stats of Carestream CR and DR units across the entire enterprise.

Best Practice #4: Give Staff the Training They Need on Radiology Equipment

Radiographers need to know what tools are at their disposal. After all, well-trained radiographers are essential to a thriving radiology department. The most effective path for radiographers is to become proficient on existing equipment and use its capabilities to the fullest. 

Here are some strategies for success:

  • Engage a trainer: Radiology equipment has multiple features and applications to improve productivity and enhance image quality. Check with your imaging provider to understand the training they offer on their software and equipment.
  • Designate ‘key operators’: Identify staff in your department who are willing to be the super-users of your imaging equipment. They are the ones responsible for providing staff members with the system knowledge they need to perform daily tasks, as well as run equipment optimally and to capacity. Good candidates for key operators have strong x-ray knowledge, are especially computer literate, and are passionate about making sure the equipment functions appropriately not only for staff, but also for patients. A 24-hour facility will benefit from having a key operator on every shift. Then, set aside time for your key operators to have deep training from your imaging equipment providers.
  • Stay connected: Remain in contact with vendor customer support and make use of updated training and new tools like training videos. Remember: Any investment made now in training will pay off fully in time-savings later.  

Best Practice #5: Perform Regular Maintenance

Maintenance is key to sustaining productivity levels and making sure an investment is safe. After all, productivity features are of no use if equipment is down. Proper care and maintenance of x-ray equipment will help protect the financial investment and help achieve optimal performance. 

Below are some recommendations to maximize the ROI of imaging equipment through service:

  • Perform regular preventive maintenance.
  • Use and manipulate equipment properly.
  • Don’t overlook component care.
  • Operate equipment within its technical specifications.
  • Provide the optimum environment for x-ray equipment.
  • Use only approved cleaners and disinfectants on equipment exterior.

To sum it up, achieving a strong return on investment requires comprehensive use of all the tools available to you. It requires a well-trained staff that makes full use of the features available to them, and adoption of new time-saving features. In the end, well-maintained equipment and a strong partnership with an innovative healthcare imaging provider can go a long way toward maximizing ROI.

Ron Muscosky is worldwide product line manager at Carestream Health. Questions and comments can be directed to AXIS Imaging News chief editor Keri Forsythe-Stephens at [email protected].