Tracking the Selection and Implementation of Smart CT Solutions | The Imaging Administrator’s Perspective
This is the first in a three-part series dedicated to sharing best practices for implementing smart solutions in the CT suite.
Carson Tahoe Health (CTH) in Carson City, Nevada, is a comprehensive healthcare provider network with 20 regional locations across a large geographic region that includes two hospitals, two urgent cares, and emergency and outpatient services. The responsibility of standardization of imaging services throughout this large network is managed by Scott Mattes, MBA, CRA, RT(N), Associate Administrator of Operations at CTH.
In an effort to boost efficiency and standardize CT contrast protocols across sites, Mattes directed an enterprise-wide implementation of Bracco Diagnostics, Inc.’s SmartInjectCT Solutions: the NEXO® Contrast Management System on several EmpowerCTA®+ Injector Systems, also manufactured by Bracco.
Bracco’s SmartInjectCT Solutions are interconnected technologies that aid radiologists, protocol managers, and technologists in monitoring and managing patient records, support compliance and standardization, and track performance during contrast injection. SmartInjectCT Solutions include the EmpowerCTA®+ Injector system, which optimizes imaging capabilities, streamlines workflow and enhances patient care. Complementing the EmpowerCTA®+ is NEXO® Contrast Management System, a software platform that seamlessly connects patient data through the modality worklist to the EMR and PACS. This technology tracks contrast delivery and manages CT imaging protocols for data-driven clinical support. NEXO® automatically documents contrast injection post procedure data via DICOM reports, which are sent to the Radiologist workstation for review alongside the CT images.1,2
“Bracco was able to provide a single digital solution that networks all of our CT injectors and manages our contrast utilization system-wide,” Mattes explained.
Networked within two days
Mattes said a successful implementation starts with connecting your facility’s IT team with your smart CT solution partner. To streamline the NEXO® implementation, Bracco developed a detailed project plan with CTH’s IT team. This strategic plan included mutually agreed upon deployment milestones and outlined a plan for onsite applications and training, which were supported by a dedicated imaging clinical applications specialist and an IT specialist from Bracco.
“Consistent communication between the smart CT solution provider and the internal implementation teams is critical to ensure a smooth implementation,” said Mattes. “The weeks of preparation with regularly scheduled calls resulted in minimal downtime, and our six injectors were networked within two days. Bracco promised and they delivered without a single hitch,” he said.
Driving efficiency and standardization
NEXO® immediately delivered time savings for technologists. From the point of CT order entry, NEXO® streams patient demographics from the EMR to the injector. Then, the post-scan data is automatically documented in CTH’s PACS, including demographic and procedure information, study date and time, scanner information, the contrast amount loaded and injected, and documented waste.
“The automated modality worklist and patient data entry save a lot of time. This allows the technologists to focus on scanning and patient care versus data entry,” said Mattes. “This extra time could save a department 20 to 30 minutes per day, which could translate to an additional scheduled exam and revenue.”
NEXO® drives consistency, standardization and compliance throughout the network by allowing CTH to remotely manage all of its CT contrast protocols, eliminating the need to manually update protocols at each site. This further supports quick contrast protocol implementation on each injector and the ability to upload new contrast protocols or make changes to existing protocols.
“Knowing that all six of our scanners are running the same protocols, and being able to evaluate and audit compliance remotely, is a major time saver for our protocol manager. In addition to the data networking that ties all of our systems together, this ultimately improves patient safety and the quality of care,” he said.
A smart investment
Key Performance Indicator (KPI) injection reporting allows Mattes to monitor clinical and operational metrics to adjust administrative practices that can boost performance, streamline procedures, improve efficiencies and increase productivity. He is currently analyzing NEXO® data to evaluate contrast waste to determine if CTH should transition from contrast supplied in single-dose vials to multi-dose bottles.
“As an administrator, you can manage contrast waste per exam or per patient, establish benchmarks of current practices, perform quality and safety audits supporting compliance, apply real-time data to assist in the preparation of departmental budgets and manage all of the metrics enterprise-wide remotely,” he said. “The automated documentation saves me time as an administrator.”
Mattes encourages any healthcare systems with multiple CT suites at different locations to invest in smart CT solutions. “It will provide valuable analytics that support annual budget preparation and quick contrast protocol adjustments. It also provides access to your network's information for quality and safety audits or to understand deviations in image quality,” he said.
Ultimately, Bracco’s SmartInjectCT Solutions helped CTH improve operations throughout the network. “The investment was well worth it,” said Mattes. “All of this translates into improved patient satisfaction and enhanced reimbursement and revenue.”
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