As medical reimbursements continue to decline, increasing financial pressures are placed upon medical imaging providers. This burden is exacerbated by the existing radiologic technologist (RT) crisis, which has caused RT salaries to trend upward. One strategy to address these trends is employing technology to improve technologist productivity. While industry-wide RT productivity benchmarks have been established for film-based operation, little to date has been published in the medical literature regarding similar productivity measures for filmless operation using PACS. This study was undertaken to document the complex relationship between technologist productivity and implementation of digital radiography and digital information technologies, including PACS and hospital/ radiology information systems (HIS/RIS). A nationwide survey was conducted with 112 participating institutions, in varying degrees of digital technology implementation. Technologist productivity was defined as the number of annual exams performed per technologist full-time equivalent (FTE). Productivity analyses were performed among the different demographic and technology profile groups, with a focus on general radiography, which accounts for 65-70% of imaging department volumes. When evaluating the relationship between technologist productivity and digital technology implementation, improved productivity measures were observed for institutions implementing HIS/RIS, modality worklist, and PACS. The timing of PACS implementation was found to have a significant effect on technologist productivity measures, with an initial 10.8% drop in productivity during the first year of PACS implementation, followed by a 27.8% increase in productivity beyond year one. This suggests there is a "PACS learning curve" phenomenon, which should be considered when institutions are planning for PACS implementation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
- Computer Science Applications