To assess efficiency improvement of reporting process using flat panel reading of DICOM images, compared to traditional lighted screen.
METHOD AND MATERIALS
Using PACS facilities, 20 consecutive US examinations from our clinical practice were simultaneously transferred to a diagnostic workstation and a laser printer for hard copies production. The DICOM images were stored on the hard disk of the workstation, the films hung on a motorized viewer. All examinations were reviewed and discussed by four radiologists (2 staff radiologists, 2 residents). Each radiologist subsequently performed independent reporting of the two sets of examinations, according to in house reporting standards. A delay of at least one day was observed between each round of reporting. The order of reviewing the series was at random. The time needed to perform reporting was measured using the time clock of our dictation server. The results were compared using student’s t-test and P was set at 0.05 for significance. Hanging on and taking down films at the beginning and at the end of the process were timed with a stopwatch. The time to switch from one examination to the other on the workstation was included in the reporting time, and the same method was applied for changing lighted screen.
Hanging on the hard copies films on the lighted screen lasted 6 minutes 30 seconds, and taking them down 6 minutes. The reporting time using lighted screen were respectively 50 and 33 minutes for staff radiologists, and 63 and 67 minutes for residents. Durations were 39 and 37 minutes, respectively 49 and 54 minutes for flat panel reading. The reporting time using the workstation was significantly shorter (P<0.05) than film reading time for three reviewers. No statistically significant difference appeared for one staff radiologist.
Flat panel reading increases efficiency of report generation. Direct availability of DICOM images on the workstation spares the time related to hard copies handling. Reporting process itself is significantly shortened with flat panel display for the majority of users.