Within the last few years, technology has made it possible for hospitals to adopt digital radiography (DR) systems. Technical feasibility, however, is only part of the equation for implementation of new technology. Before a hospital can commit to a new technology like DR, it must determine whether or not the capital outlay required for the purchase is economically feasible. To determine this, hospitals need to consider their objectives in terms of throughput/productivity and improvements in patient care. Hospitals that have implemented DR are finding that improvements in throughput, efficiency, and image quality make these systems quite cost-effective.
Taking a radiology or department digital is a significant undertaking, which requires substantial research. After setting long-range goals and objectives for the radiology department, physicians and administrators need to develop an understanding of the various means of digital radiography and determine which ones fit their goals, as well as those of the healthcare facility. Next, there are competing technologies to analyze and compare. After this research phase is complete, the hospital must decide on buying specifications to include in its RFPs.
Despite the superior image quality, increased productivity, and improved throughput, DR alone does not constitute a 21st century radiology department. There are other technologies that must work in harmony with DR to bring to bear all of its benefits. For example, DR cannot be taken to the patient. For trauma patients or those in ICU, computed radiography (CR) systems provide a mobile solution and an ideal complement to DR. Additionally, the ability to route images to where they are needed via a picture archiving and communications system (PACS) can help the department realize even more productivity benefits.
Please refer to the July 2001 issue for the complete story. For information on article reprints, contact Martin St. Denis