X-Ray Film Scanners and Digitizers, X-Ray Film Scanning Services and Software
Go Digital and Solve the X-ray Film Problemposted Aug-8-2014
Surprisingly, in this digital age, there are still small, rural hospitals and radiology clinics that operate using paper and film–based modalities. As they begin to move into the digital world, part of their conversion to HIS/EMR systems will involve the installation of Picture Archiving and Communications Systems (PACS), so that they transform not only their medical records keeping methodology but also their medical imaging methodology. Often this movement from film X-ray to digital X-ray is the final step in achieving a fully digital environment.
In going fully digital, one important item is often overlooked — how to handle prior analog film studies. This lack of foresight can cause unforeseen problems, including: (1) disrupted workflow; (2) frustrated staff and patients; and, (3) additional costs.
It’s important to consider film conversion as part of the overall transition, because reviewing prior studies is necessary for good clinical decision-making. These prior studies may be from the facilities’ own film archives, or they may come in with patients who arrive for new studies. This means that it’s not only critical to decide how to handle in-house film archives during the transition, but also how to handle film on an ongoing basis. The bottom line is that newly digital facilities will need to deal with analog film far longer than they may think and certainly longer than just during the transition phase.
Anyone who has tried, can tell you that comparing analog films on a light box to digital studies on a computer monitor is both cumbersome and difficult. For the radiologist, just one analog film a day can create significant workflow and patient-care challenges. This is where a film digitizer becomes an important component of daily operations in the digital facility. Often, the cost of the on-site film digitizer is quickly absorbed by the increased efficiency in handling incoming analog film.
Make Film Digitizing a Priority
While having a medical-grade film digitizer in-house to handle incoming analog film is recommended, it has been found that using an X-ray digitizing service at the outset to convert archived film can save both time and money. There is a need to retain and access some types of prior films, such as mammography, for many years, and these ”long-retention” films may be more economically digitized by an outsource service as part of the initial digital transition, rather than one at a time as-needed in-house. This helps to automate processes more quickly and ensures quality images from the outset, since most outsource services are geared to rapid production and quality images.
Some facilities may think they can’t afford to digitize prior films, but the scanning hardware that is available today is both affordable and high-quality. This means both your in-house scanning requirements and your outsourced scanning requirements can usually be met for much lower cost than you may have thought possible. Furthermore, the alternative—not digitizing the film —is much more expensive over time due to decreased efficiency, unpaid time handling film, and workflow disruptions, among other factors.
An Integral Requirement for Going Digital
Film digitizing must be considered an integral part of the transition to digital imaging. Film digitizing should not be relegated to a secondary position in the process. There is a role for both digitizers and for cost-effective conversion services to help facilities solve the ongoing “film problem” and ensure that radiologists and staff members remain productive both during and after implementing a digital imaging system. High-quality, affordable, and fast film digitizing solutions, such as those offered by VIDAR Systems Corporation, and other high-end film digitizer manufacturers are helping facilities worldwide realize the full benefits of digital imaging and PACS; while outsource film scanning services, like www.xrayscan.com use DICOM-based film digitizers with state-of-the-art software to ensure that prior studies are available when you need them at surprisingly low costs.
In addition, many outsource services, can also offer cloud-based storage, access, view and transmission of digital medical images at very affordable prices. This service can be especially beneficial to rural hospitals and clinics where fast second opinions or consultations with large medical hubs can provide improved patient diagnosis and better patient care.
In studied hospitals that have converted to digital, financial benefits throughout the hospitals were assessed prior to the conversion and then measured periodically afterward. Key indicators such as: (1) radiology exam turnaround time; (2) number of radiology procedures performed; and, (3) inpatients length of stay before and after the digital implementation were analyzed and values were statistically tested to assess workflow and productivity improvements. In the first year, the hospitals averaged a 12% increase in radiology department productivity, improvements in length of stay varying by department, with some improvements as high as 12% reported.
It appears that a well-planned digital deployment simplifies imaging workflow and improves patient care throughout the hospital while delivering substantial financial benefits.