The introduction of 32 and 40 slice CT scanners in 2003 exacerbates the many workflow challenges institutions currently face with multi-slice CT scanners. These challenges can broadly be divided into three categories: (1) patient scheduling and management, (2) data storage and image distribution, and (3) study review. This study investigates challenges in patient scheduling and management. The primary objective of this study is to decrease patient turnaround times to 5-10 minutes per CT exam leading to a minimum rate of 6-12 patients / hour per CT scanner.
METHOD AND MATERIALS
The study investigates and analyzes in detail the two primary components that affect patient turnaround times: (a) scan times per patient, and (b) patient flow times in a hospital. Scan time includes patient prep time before the CT scan, reconstruction of the original data, and creation of additional datasets such as MPRs for storage, image distribution and subsequent study review. Insights learned from environments that have deployed 16 and 40 slice scanners are used to develop effective workflow solutions to enhance the utilization of high-end multi-slice scanners.
This work in progress study is currently in the data collection phase. A preliminary analysis reveals that issues related to department staffing, redundant paper trails, patient preparation, and protocoling of requested procedures by hospital staff are all factors that need to be understood to realize improved workflow efficiencies.
With the reality of acquiring more CT slices in less time, optimized scanning, decreased breathing times, and thinner slices for better Z axis resolution the emerging challenge is one of optimizing the use of this data effectively in the radiology department. Generalized solutions are provided for workflow improvement and throughput maximization. Suggestions are also provided for institutions to further optimize the use of their multi-slice environment from patient check-in to clinical interpretation based on their individual needs.
S.S.,D.J.,M.M.: Authors work for Philips Medical Systems, Inc.