Dashboard quantifies PACS success

February 14, 2005

The success of PACS is not in dispute. One-half of all U.S. hospitals in the HIMSS database either have PACS installed or are in the process of implementation.

The success of PACS is not in dispute. One-half of all U.S. hospitals in the HIMSS database either have PACS installed or are in the process of implementation.

This success can be quantified locally and in rigorous detail, according to a speaker at a HIMSS education session Monday morning.

Mark Domalewski, director of imaging services at Fairview Health Services in Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN, presented a means of measuring PACS success using a clever inhouse dashboard called Fairview Imaging Manager Desktop.

"Projected growth in imaging requires effective management of clinical data," Domalewski said.

Since PACS has become the cornerstone of improvement efforts in imaging, a dashboard is necessary to permit real-time assessment of imaging enterprise performance and the success of PACS, he said.

Domalewski decided to focus on the impact of PACS on several levels: customer service (patients and referring physicians), human resources, clinical, and financial.

Human resources is included because of the current and projected labor shortage in radiology. Clinical reports indicate how well radiology is doing its job.

"Not many radiology departments measure this," he said.

Domalewski's system yields such facility and modality details as:

  • monthly report turnaround times

  • monthly cost per exam

  • monthly operating margin

  • monthly technician productivity (number of exams per FTE)

All of the group's 18,000 employees can retrieve data from the system. They may be interested in any of several key performance indicators, such as ER turnaround.

"We wanted to assess ER turnaround because the emergency physicians sometimes complained that it takes too long to get patients scanned and reports back," Domalewski said. "We wanted to measure this."

The dashboard is still growing. Domalewski is designing the system to provide daily exam reports, time from patient arrival to exam completion, and daily or hourly unread exam lists.

"If a patient is in the department for more than 30 minutes, we aren't doing our job well" he said.