Physician, heal thy own radiology department

December 2, 2002

Radiology is generally concerned with the study of images in the diagnosis of pathology. A paper presented at the RSNA meeting this morning described a methodology designed to give radiologists a better way to examine the operation of their own hospital

Radiology is generally concerned with the study of images in the diagnosis of pathology. A paper presented at the RSNA meeting this morning described a methodology designed to give radiologists a better way to examine the operation of their own hospital diagnostic imaging departments.

The system generates a series of diagrams. It determines departmental workflow and identifies any existing problem areas. The principal benefit of the system, however, is its ability to provide building blocks to create a software prototype that can be extended to automate these workflows and help eliminate departmental problems identified during the analysis.

The methodology, presented by Dr. Sergio Camorlinga, a radiologist at the University of Manitoba, make use of four fundamental tools in the pursuit of interviews, participant observation, diagrams, and other documents:

  • order status life cycle
  • Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE)
  • unified modeling language (UML)
  • software prototypes

"UML, a modeling tool used for analysis and design of software engineering projects, combined with a new application of the IHE model, was used as a basis for our diagrams," Camorlinga said.

Software prototypes are a speedy and cost-effective way to capture user requirements, according to Camorlinga.

"The diagrams that are produced with this methodology are a variation of the ones used in UML and have proven to be very useful in this context," he said.

The utility of the diagrams became apparent in communication with the people being interviewed and in identifying areas where the analysis was lacking. This methodology has been applied successfully in three hospitals and has been an excellent tool in the discovery of departmental problems and limitations in services provided, according to Camorlinga.

"The big advantage of this methodology is that it is easy for the user to understand, and it can be used to consolidate ideas and analyze results," he said."It's particularly useful as a foundation for a PACS installation."