Ideas for Hospitals, Centers and Practices

VersaRad CR Improves Throughput for St Joseph’s Hospital
B-CAD Offers Consistency, Confidence

VersaRad CR Improves Throughput for St Joseph’s Hospital

To improve throughput in its emergency department and general radiography rooms, St Joseph’s Hospital in Marshfield, Wis, recently installed two VersaRad CR radiography systems from Fischer Medical Technologies Inc, Broomfield, Colo. Because the VersaRad CR can be used for all radiographic procedures except for tomography, the facility now performs up to 60 procedures during a 12-hour shift.

It takes less than 6 minutes to complete a VersaRad exam, according to manufacturer Fischer Medical Technologies.

The 500-bed hospital serves as the primary rural referral medical center for Wisconsin and also covers upper Michigan. One of the VersaRad CR units is located in the facility’s emergency/trauma department, while the second is housed in the radiology department.

“It gives them a lot of flexibility,” said Kent Kruse, vice president of sales and marketing for Fischer Medical Technologies Inc. “The one in the ED is utilized very heavily. The one in radiology is used for orthopedics and general radiography.”

According to Kruse, the versatility of the system appeals to customers such as St Joseph’s Hospital. For example, the company offers an open architecture system rather than proprietary CR technology.

“What has made Fischer unique is that we adapt and use the technologies that are out there so that people don’t have to worry about being locked in to a specific vendor for their imaging needs,” he said. “We’ll fit any kind of CR or DR system.”

One reason behind St Joseph’s Hospital’s purchase is that the facility has used similar products from Fischer Medical Technologies in the past. Originally introduced as the Traumex in 1982, the VersaRad CR system features an expandable, ceiling-suspended U-arm that can accommodate chest sizes up to 72 inches.

“With the VersaRad, you keep patient movement to a minimum,” Kruse said. “That helps so you don’t exacerbate any injury and keeps the patient stable during the exam.”

In some instances such as orthopedic cases, the VersaRad CR can also offer emergency departments an alternative to CT, Kruse notes.

“The vast majority of people coming into the ED don’t need a CT,” he said. “Using the VersaRad CR is one-fourth the cost of a CT exam. So, the hospital saves significant money if they can, in a way, triage and make sure that they get the right imaging for the right patient.”

There is also the time factor. While it takes less than 6 minutes to complete a VersaRad exam, the process to obtain a CT can take up to 30 minutes, especially if the patient has to be transported out of the emergency department for the test.

“The dose is significantly lower than with a CT, too,” Kruse said. “So that’s important, especially for pediatric cases.”

The staff at St Joseph’s Hospital will be assisting Fischer Medical Technologies after the release of the VersaRad DR, which will be launched this summer.

“They will be working with us on the DR version, once that becomes available, because of the unique nature of having one in the ED and one in the radiology department,” Kruse said.

The icon-driven user interface of the DR version will be designed to reduce the learning curve for the software.

“It’s going to be very user-friendly,” he said. “We’re also looking at unsurpassed resolution with a new digital plate from Varian that we’ll be using. And we’re looking at a very, very low cost entry point for a DR system in the ED.”

—Ann H. Carlson

B-CAD Offers Consistency, Confidence

The Medipattern Corporation, Toronto, recently sold its 100th B-CAD license at Metropolitan Diagnostic Imaging Group. The New York-based imaging group will implement the enterprise-wide B-CAD-FOR-LIFE managed service contract at its Manhattan, Forest Hills, Queens, Brooklyn, and three Long Island locations.

Medipattern’s B-CAD is available for a flat monthly fee and support is offered 24/7.

B-CAD is a computer-aided detection system that is used in conjunction with breast ultrasound. For the expert breast specialist, the system offers more efficient workflow and enhances communication within radiology groups, according to Medipattern CEO Jeff Collins.

The system can capture all of the relevant information that a radiologist needs to make an informed diagnosis, including breast mapping, images, and notes that are all electronically recorded and can be integrated into the patient’s electronic health record.

To aid and standardize communication, the system uses the American College of Radiology BI-RADS lexicon. “From an expert perspective, you have everybody reporting the same thing, improving communication,” said Collins. “Other descriptive terminology can also be pre-templated. This adds structure to the practice that is seen from the sonographer’s worksheet through to communication to the radiologist. B-CAD consistently describes the case in the same language and in the same format, so that information from every sonographer and to every radiologist is the same.”

The inclusion of the BI-RADS lexicon helps in other ways. “It has been proven in numerous articles that by following the lexicon, your positive and negative results will be more accurate,” Collins said.

The system also includes a checklist that reminds the user about all the features relevant to a lesion. The information is presented and recorded in a consistent, standardized format. And though the B-CAD is loaded with preset lexicons and other features, it can be modified by the practice to fit its needs, including the way the sonographer and others handle reporting.

While B-CAD will make the expert radiologists who specialize in women’s imaging more efficient, the general radiographers who may have a much lower breast imaging volume will have increased confidence with the support the system gives them and their staff. Collins describes the system as a “Doc in a Box” that aids diagnosis by rating lesion size with the BI-RADS scoring methodology that tags a result as being likely malignant or benign. The ultimate diagnostic power is still in the hands of the radiologist who can agree or disagree with the B-CAD’s suggestions.

From the administrator’s perspective, B-CAD’s suggestions help to capture more reimbursement dollars. According to Collins, Medipattern’s customers are currently receiving reimbursement for the CAD procedure from more than 35 of the nation’s largest health care insurers. The reimbursement process is currently manual, but will eventually go to an all-electronic process.

B-CAD is available for a flat monthly fee. For the first 3 months, clients do not have to pay, which gives staff and radiographers time to become familiar with the system and to customize workflow and language used in reporting.

Support is offered 24/7 either through Medipattern or, if the customer is using a GE imaging system, through GE Healthcare, and can be either in-person or online. Medipattern runs a training program as well, though Collins said that sonographers typically find the system very intuitive and easy to use, and by the third time they use it, the learning curve begins to flatten out. Medipattern runs a training program called B-CAD University as well. B-CADU offers CME credit classes to improve understanding of CAD and breast ultrasound imaging.

Taken together, B-CAD is a very cost-effective way for radiology practices to increase efficiency and capture maximum reimbursements. Collins said that in a busy women’s imaging practice, it typically takes only two to three imaging studies a day to pay B-CAD’s monthly fee.

—C.A. Wolski