Almost everywhere in the world, the effects of the economic crisis are clearly visible in reduced budgets for healthcare expenditure. Many clinical centers are, therefore, choosing for refurbished or used equipment. There is a difference, though, between refurbished and used. If we consider the example of CT or MRI scans, the vendors dismantle the used equipment, bring it to their facilities and old pieces are replaced, software updated and a fully quality check is done. In addition, these devices have a warranty. Used equipment, however, is normally sold by a retailer and it does not have anything done to it. Choosing one or another will depend a lot on the clinic’s requirements and budget.

Refurbished equipment can be a very good option, when you need to add capacity to your existing facilities, or if you are doing routine scans, which do not require the latest technology. One way or another, the choice is out there, but the decision is up to the buyers.

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Lugnegård, director of product management at Sectra has written an interesting article about the role of Radiology in the future of Healthcare. Radiology, according to him, is a “natural hub and is in an excellent position to help coordinate the best care”. Through better integration of the clinical process and implementing smart workflows that help save time and money, he believes Radiology can play a key role in making Healthcare more efficient and improving care quality.

For more information, click here.

A group of Dutch researchers (Celik et al. 2008) performed a study on diversity in Healthcare and found out that most patients are treated with a ‘one-fits-all’ approach. Only gender is taking into account to treat patients (women and men) in a more personalized way. The researchers state that “special needs and preferences related to different cultural backgrounds, age, and social economic status are hardly noticed”. According to them, this could be changed through education and training of professionals in the particular context they are immersed. Likewise sharing of knowledge is also pointed out as a very important aspect. Nowadays, this could be implemented through knowledge (online) networks where professionals can exchange information and experiences.

This is a very interesting article as it could be a way towards a more “patient-centric” healthcare.

For more information: Celik, H, Abma, T, Widdershoven, G, van Wijmen, F, & Klinge, I (2008), ‘Implementation of diversity in healthcare practices: barriers and opportunities’, Patient Education And Counseling, 71, 1, pp. 65-71

Faster MRI?

May 15, 2012

 

Researchers from the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C (principal researcher: Stanley Fricke) have recently published a study in Medical Physics where they show that ultra-fast magnetic gradients (pulse sequences with rise times 100 times faster than conventional MRI) do not produce nerve stimulation or muscle twitching. According to the researchers, MRI limiting speed should be revisited taking into account the new developments, and they expect MRI to allow imaging of small children in seconds rather than minutes.

I wrote in my previous post about smart phones and how they are getting more and more common among Radiologists. Well, tablets are not far behind. Actually, the new iPad’s Retina display, which has raised the tablet’s resolution to the level of a 3-megapixel PACS monitor, is generating a lot of expectation, especially for reading Digital Radiography images. The new iPad offers 2,048 x 1,536-pixel resolution at 264 pixels per inch, up from the iPad 2’s 1,024 x 768-pixel resolution at 132 pixels per inch. This, together with the easy-to-handle features, such as zoom and scroll, make this device very suitable for checking images on the fly.

However, this increased resolution is only beneficial when the images also have a high resolution. This is not the case for tomographic images such as CT, MRI, SPECT or ultrasound, which have a much lower resolution. Nonetheless, the portability of the device, together with the new speed capabilities (e.g. the new iPad utilizes the A5X chip, with quad-core graphics processing capability), make the tablet a very attractive tool for Radiologists.

Last February, a group of Canadian researchers presented at the American Academy of Orthopeadic Surgeons (AAOS) a new study about the interpretation of MR images on the iphone.

Smartphones are becoming part of every activity of our lives, and this is also true for physicians and hospitals. The advantage is that they are portable and most of the time on the pocket or handbag, but the question is whether they are good enough for a medical diagnosis.

According to Dr. John Theodoropoulos, an orthopedic surgeon from the University of Toronto, “iPhone interpretations showed high sensitivity and specificity for medial meniscus and cruciate ligaments injuries with lower sensitivity for lateral meniscus tears and lower specificity for cartilage injuries.  And compared to much larger the PACS workstation interpretation on a flat screen, the iPhone showed excellent agreement for medial meniscus and cruciate ligament injuries and good agreement for cartilage injuries”. However, Dr. Theodoropoulos said that the iPhone app missed two cartilage tears versus the full-sized workstation.

Maybe we are not there yet, but the smartphones and tablets certainly look promising for medical image interpretation and have many features that make them very attractive, specially for emergency cases.

More info

 

Cloud-based services

February 23, 2012

Each day we are hearing more and more about cloud services. However, a critical issue comes to mind: data security.

Some are comparing this reaction to the first reactions to Internet banking, consumers being afraid of fraud, identity theft and so on. As Internet banking, cloud-based services are a reality nowadays. However, you must choose your provider wisely. Suppliers must have the optimal technologies to ensure patient data is protected at all levels.

For more information,  Carestream has created a white paper about cloud-based services.