Located just five miles from Disneyland, Orange, Calif.-based St. Joseph Hospital is a 500-bed community hospital and part of the Providence St. Joseph Health System. St. Joseph Hospital’s radiology department—which consists of American College of Radiology-accredited inpatient and outpatient imaging services— performs roughly 149,000 billable procedures per year, barring interventional radiology and cath lab services.

Below, Yvonne Grayson, RT(R), (CT), (MR), BSRS, MHA, St. Joseph Hospital’s executive director of imaging services (among other specialities), sits down with AXIS Imaging News to discuss what sets the team apart from other imaging departments and how the hospital is actively working to reduce dose among patients.

AXIS Imaging News: Can you please discuss your imaging department and the equipment you house?

Yvonne Grayson: Our goal of supporting health initiatives and overall population health is through the utilization of low-dose screening procedures. These tests include bone densitometry for evaluating osteoporosis, CT lung cancer screening, CT coronary calcium scoring, and mammography tomosynthesis. Additionally, our CT department has recently adopted coronary CT angiography scanning protocols to support coronary artery assessment and transaortic valve replacement planning for high- and moderate-risk patients. We are extremely fortunate to have converted to a complete digital imaging environment.

What makes us unique is multifaceted. Our nuclear medicine department acquired a digital, state-of-the-art PET/CT, allowing for cutting-edge procedures to include the radiopharmaceuticals Axumin for suspected prostate cancer recurrence and DOTA-TATE to evaluate patients with neuroendocrine tumors. We also perform all types of MRI examinations using the latest sequences and techniques for the work-up of many disease processes.

Further, the ultrasound modality performs a wide range of tests including elastography studies to evaluate liver cirrhosis. And diagnostic imaging supports the interventional radiology department by performing an average of 20 daily ultrasound- and CT-guided biopsy/drainage procedures, in addition to radiofrequency and cryogenic ablations.

AXIS: How does your imaging department stand out from other hospitals’ imaging departments and why?

Grayson: Our culture of caring for the mind, body, and spirit is reflected in the healing environments we have created in our imaging suites by providing soothing lighting, images, music, art, and sounds. The greatest advantage of this spa-like environment is the positive impact on caregivers—and the resultant patient experience.

The imaging department’s holistic focus is augmented by a highly skilled technical team, fully committed to “Imaging Gently” and “Imaging Wisely” for radiation dose reduction. Additionally, our imaging department would not be what it is without the collaboration, professionalism, and knowledge of our board-certified, subspecialty physicians/radiologists.

Also, our diagnostic and interventional (IR) radiologists are in two separate physician groups; IR physicians are in a group shared by vascular surgeons. This not only offers a highly effective subspecialized skill set, but also reduces the old IR equipment turf battles between competing subspecialty physician groups. The patients receive services from the most highly skilled physicians.

AXIS: How has your imaging department evolved in the past few years? How do you expect it to evolve even more in the future?

Grayson: We have a comprehensive dose-reporting database in place, which allows us to share our radiation doses across the nation for continuous improvement. As a member of the Providence St. Joseph Health System, we perform constant comparative assessments of best practices and process improvements.

AXIS: In your opinion, what are some of the biggest innovations in medical imaging? How is your department deploying such technologies?

Grayson: The acquisition of digital imaging devices has proven to impact department efficiency by 30%-50%. Something as striking as the Fuji portable x-ray application “virtual grid” allows the technologist, through simple electronic software, to provide exceptional x-ray image quality without using heavy standard grid devices. Not only can the technologist work more efficiently, but he or she can also work safer with less weight on the manipulated imaging plate. Also, our digital PET/CT implementation has decreased exam times by 50%.

Imaging innovation goes [hand in hand] with technological advancements. An imaging team’s capability to optimize workflow through the availability and use of data collection makes efficient staffing fluctuation possible. Computer systems with secure, open standards [streamline] image sharing and consultations with referring physicians.