Nowadays medical devices supporting and implementing the Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) standard are made use of in almost every medical institution (e.g. in hospitals), and one hospital may have up to ten such devices or even more.
DICOM Viewers are perceived to be just a tool for viewing medical files in the DICOM format. However, I believe that there are some untapped opportunities for them: the Viewers have the potential to become a worktime management tool, as well.
Each of us knows how long it takes to stand in a queue before being seen by a doctor, be it a GP or a health professional who is in charge of medical imaging devices. This makes management of worktime of DICOM-compatible devices an acute problem. Such poor worktime management results into imaging devices sitting idle, while patients have to spend long hours in a queue.
DICOM Viewers could give medical workers a helping hand by bringing automation to worktime management if IT experts add a new feature to a standard solution.
This new feature could be used to manage worktime of imaging devices and medical workers, thus maintaining a high technician utilization with minimal idle time of equipment and eliminating problems related to technological reasons or improper order management.
Such an approach will enable to create preliminary and operating plans, with each medical procedure being tied to a particular date and time. The planning will be based on estimated duration of each procedure and free resources being available. For instance, an MRI scan can last from 15 to 90 minutes, and duration of this procedure depends on a size of an area that is scanned and the number of images that are needed.
The solution will take into account time spent on routine maintenance of equipment in order not to cause any inconvenience to patients.
Besides, it will execute rescheduling in case there are any emergency situations.
The solution will store operator’s records of performance of DICOM equipment. It will make it possible for a DICOM Viewer to send a message to an operator once images are taken to notify that a new procedure can be started. The message can be send automatically or manually (by a doctor). The notifications will be very useful if there is an emergency case and a medical image must be taken as soon as possible to make a right diagnosis.
Besides, if a medical worker spends less time making a shot that it is planned, an operator will be able to inform a patient that he\she can undergo a procedure earlier than expected in another room.
Electronic document management is one more advantage such a solution has. A medical image can be uploaded to a DICOM Viewer right after it is taken.
The solution can be integrated with a management control system that is used in a hospital and automatically collect information on a condition of DICOM devices. It can also become a tool enabling operational planning by assigning daily, weekly, monthly or even quarterly tasks to medical workers.
Thus, DICOM Viewers can become an important tool for managing worktime of DICOM-compatible devices.