Business intelligence improves radiology dashboards

November 30, 2009

Imaging suite dashboards that incorporate business intelligence to automate more steps could speed up and improve imaging processes, according to a Monday presentation at the RSNA meeting.

Imaging suite dashboards that incorporate business intelligence to automate more steps could speed up and improve imaging processes, according to a Monday presentation at the RSNA meeting.

The system developed by a team at the University of Chicago Medical Center showed how business intelligence could be used to better route patients through the CT scanning process. For example, empty slots in the room where patients consume contrast are readily identified and patients more promptly sent there before their CT scans, said Dr. Paul Chang, vice chair of radiology informatics, who presented the report. The system also knows to send angio patients to a 256-slice scanner instead of a 64-slice model.

Traditional dashboards operate more like read-only whiteboards: they tell you what's happening but usually lack the business intelligence to handle more advanced tasks, Chang said. He compared that with trying to run an airport from the ticket desk and without air traffic controllers. Shifting tasks to the dashboard creates the equivalent of an automated air traffic controller and frees up technologists, who now juggle many tasks, to focus on the imaging.

The system uses RIS/HIS/PACS information to help create a graphical view of patient flow within the CT suite. The information is presented in two views.

In the resource-centric view, various patient stages show as icons, including scheduled inpatient/outpatient, transport, drinking contrast/noncontrast, waiting areas, IV room, and scan rooms.

In the patient-centric view, a list of patients is provided when an icon in the resource view is clicked. Patient details, including scanned screening/requisition/protocol forms, and a patient progress bar are accessible when an individual patient is clicked. A patient can be dragged and dropped onto an icon to move the patient to the next stage; the particular workflow task is then routed to the appropriate staff member. When an inpatient icon is moved to the "drinking" icon, for example, the dashboard sends a signal to staff to deliver the oral contrast.

The system has eliminated paper-based workflow and improved the efficiency of scanning technologists, Chang said. Since implementing the system they've observed time savings of 12 to 17 minutes per case. But it's difficult to measure impact of the dashboard alone, Chang said, since it came with other efficiency steps, such as automatic programming of the CT scanners.

Future steps will involve introducing more complex logic into the system, such as alerting the dashboard as soon as the patient drinks the contrast, he said.