In an attempt to maximize productivity within the medical imaging department, increasing importance and attention is being placed on workflow. Workflow is the process of analyzing individual steps that occur during a single event, such as the performance of an MRI exam. The primary focus of workflow optimization within the imaging department is automation and task consolidation, however, a number of other factors should be considered including the stochastic nature of the workload, availability of human resources, and the specific technologies being employed. The purpose of this paper is to determine the complex relationship that exists between information technology and the radiologic technologist, in an attempt to determine how workflow can be optimized to improve technologist productivity. This relationship takes on greater importance as more imaging departments are undergoing the transition from film-based to filmless operation. A nationwide survey was conducted to compare technologist workflow in film-based and filmless operations, for all imaging modalities. The individual tasks performed by technologists were defined, along with the amount of time allocated to these tasks. The index of workflow efficiency was determined to be the percentage of overall technologist time allocated to image acquisition, since this is the primary responsibility of the radiologic technologist. Preliminary analysis indicates technologist workflow in filmless operation is enhanced when compared with film-based operation, for all imaging modalities. The specific tasks that require less technologist time in filmless operation are accessing data and retake rates (due to both technical factors and lost exams). Surprisingly, no significant differences were reported for the task of image processing, when comparing technologist workflow in film-based and filmless operations. Additional research is planned to evaluate the potential workflow gains achievable through workflow optimization software, improved systems integration, and automation of advanced image processing techniques.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
- Computer Science Applications