One hospital's experience with remote radiology

April 1, 2007

A joint collaboration between a small hospital in Indiana and an Indianapolis-based picture archiving and communications systems (PACS) and complete radiology provider enabled the small hospital round-the-clock access to radiologist services. Upon its opening in October 2006, the Monroe Hospital in Bloomington, Ind., joined forces with the PACS and radiology provider to supply the facility with radiologists to cover all of the hospital's general and subspecialty radiology services through both on-site and remote radiologists.

A joint collaboration between a small hospital in Indiana and an Indianapolis-based picture archiving and communications systems (PACS) and complete radiology provider enabled the small hospital round-the-clock access to radiologist services. Upon its opening in October 2006, the Monroe Hospital in Bloomington, Ind., joined forces with the PACS and radiology provider to supply the facility with radiologists to cover all of the hospital's general and subspecialty radiology services through both on-site and remote radiologists.

The radiology network includes local radiologists who provide on-site services, including interventional procedures, coupled with radiologists in Indianapolis and other cities who are available to provide rapid, high quality interpretations for all hours of the day.

"As both a small and new facility with 32 total beds, working with the Indianapolis enterprise PACS vendor enabled us to open on time with a high-quality PACS solution and very acceptable radiologist coverage to provide timely readings," said Karla Kenefake-Hymans, director of diagnostic imaging, Monroe Hospital. "Being a brand new hospital, this also afforded us the wonderful opportunity to have no films to manage. It would have been foolish to create a file room with digital imaging and the electronic record now becoming commonplace and more reliable than ever before."

Through Philips iSite PACS, on-demand diagnostic-quality images can be taken at Monroe Hospital and delivered virtually to a network of radiologists. Monroe Hospital only has one on-site radiologist. When not available, all other hours of coverage are provided by the alliance of radiologists distributed around the globe.

The alliance formed by the Indianapolis PACS provider provides reading services focused on the needs of the healthcare facility. The alliance offers a wide-array of subspecialists, as well as coverage for night, weekend and vacation coverage in an affordable flat-fee model.

When a Monroe Hospital imaging technologist is notified that a patient in the emergency room needs an imaging exam, they can perform the exam and send the images to the PACS immediately upon completion. A radiologist from the alliance of radiologists can then log onto the system from any location with Internet access to read the images. It takes just seconds to send the images to the system, enhancing the productivity and timeliness of image interpretations at Monroe Hospital. Results are delivered back through the integration between the PACS vendor's technology platform and Monroe Hospital's CPSI system.

"Another benefit of PACS is the fact that multiple physicians can view images simultaneously and radiologists don't necessarily have to be on location within the hospital," Kenefake-Hymans said. "With the capability of anywhere, anytime viewing of images, radiologists can read the patient's case in a timely and cost-efficient manner."

Every workstation in the hospital has access to the Philips iSite web browser. Users must be registered to access the system. Once registered, radiologists and referring physicians can access the system online from any location. The iSite PACS eliminates the need to buy film, providing measurable cost savings for Monroe Hospital.

"There is not an overwhelming amount of training needed to get up and running with PACS," Kenefake-Hymans said. "Additionally, the Philips PACS is intuitive and easy to use. The training coordinated through the PACS technology provider is thorough, with follow-up training scheduled as needed. Most PACS technology is fairly similar, so previous users typically do not have any difficulty learning the Philips system."

David Crocker, MD, on-site interventional radiologist at Monroe Hospital, reports other benefits of PACS services, including decreased paperwork, the radiologist's ability to easily manipulate images, improved turnaround time, and the ability of physicians to read the images on their computers from any location. Most importantly, with improved access to information and an ability to digitally manipulate multiple images, the radiologist can make better diagnoses for patients.