PinnacleHealth: Leveraging 360 Degrees of Safety and a Solid Partnership

By Cynthia E. Keen
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Toshiba recently launched its new “360 Degrees of Safety” campaign, which is designed to increase awareness and use of safety features on the company’s medical imaging technologies, as well as on consultative and training programs the company offers its clients.

For her part, Karen Botts, Director of Radiology at Harrisburg, PA-based PinnacleHealth, is all in.

With a career spanning nearly 40 years, Ms. Botts has experienced firsthand the growth of medical imaging from basic, film-based radiography through today’s plethora of advanced, digital imaging modalities such as CT, MRI, mammography and others. And she fully recognizes the importance and significance of initiatives like “360 Degrees” and strategic partnerships with a company like Toshiba America Medical Systems to improve the safety of patients and imaging professionals in radiology.

“In an accountable care organization (ACO) environment, we are going to be much more accountable to the people who seek our services. PinnacleHealth has always promoted safety, but we now consistently reevaluate what we do in the context of quality—better quality, better safety,” Botts, who will deliver a presentation on safety in radiology during an evening event at this year’s RSNA meeting in Chicago, said in a recent interview.

Safety is a key factor in success

PinnacleHealth is a non-profit community healthcare system with three acute-care hospitals and 17 outpatient/imaging facilities located in Harrisburg and its suburbs. The system offers a wide variety of innovative treatment programs and ranks in the top 5% of Pennsylvania hospitals for major joint replacements, heart catheterization and stenting, open heart surgery, kidney transplantation, and spine/back surgery. The system is also a recipient of The Joint Commission Gold Seal of Approval Certification and other awards for exemplary performance.

With respect to improving safety in Pinnacle’s various radiology departments, Botts said, “We are focusing more on deciding what the best study is for a patient based on evidence-based guidelines and the clinical conditions they present with. We want to perform the best and right study the first time an exam is ordered, and not subject a patient to what may be a series of exams.What this means is improving our connections and communications with the doctors who order exams, to encourage discussions about what is best for a patient.”

“In addition to radiation dose-reduction technology incorporated into the CT equipment and the AIDR 3D iterative reconstruction software that makes CT exams so much safer for patients,” Botts said, “there are other features that subtly improve quality and safety for both our patients and our technologists.” These include the one-button command that lowers the CT table to make it easier for patients to get on and off without fear of falling.

“This helps our technologists as well, because it reduces the risk of back injuries,” she said, adding that ultrasound equipment is light and easy on the shoulders, wrists, and arms of sonographers—an important quality considering that rotator cuff tears are an occupational hazard of the profession.

“The combination of large-bore MRI scanners that also have quiet gradients can make a claustrophobic patient comfortable enough that they will tolerate a MRI exam. It’s amazing how much of an impact a decreased noise level has on a patient who is claustrophobic,” Ms. Botts said.

Partnerships make a difference

PinnacleHealth’s strategic partnership with Toshiba America Medical Systems is now seven years old and still going strong. The Harrisburg Hospital, in fact, was the first hospital in the state to acquire a Toshiba Aquilion™ ONE CT scanner, the world’s first dynamic volume CT system.

“Having a strategic partnership with a vendor does make a big difference,” she said. “Toshiba really is a partner, and is here when we need them. They recommend replacement modalities or new products that meet our needs, which is especially important at a time when capital funds aren’t as available as they were in the past. A vendor needs to be solicitous beyond the signing of a purchase order, and Toshiba does that. Our service team goes beyond its job description.”

As just one example, she described how a Toshiba service team “arrived unsolicited to help when the [American College of Radiology] was doing a spot check on us relating to ACR accreditation. The applications team is always available, in person or with 24/7 telephone support for as long as necessary, for any question a technologist may have. If I feel that additional on-location training is needed, it happens rapidly.”

“We have coined a new word ‘conspansion’ that represents the state of our radiology department and probably many others across the nation,” Botts said. “It means consolidating services while expanding areas of coverage. I think that this is being reflected by radiology vendors, who realize that while ‘wow’ equipment is great, having workhorse equipment built for a wide range of needs performing with the highest quality, reliability, and safety features possible, is the new reality.”

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PinnacleHealth: Leveraging 360 Degrees of Safety and a Solid Partnership.  Appl Radiol. 

By Cynthia E. Keen| November 05, 2014
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Cynthia E. Keen

Cynthia E. Keen



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