Studies prove it: with IT, radiology departments can save up to 50 percent on time alone
Today’s increasing cost pressure in the healthcare sector requires comprehensive solutions that increase the quality of care and reduce cost at the same time. In addition to the use of innovative medical systems, information technology plays an important role in this effort: only high-performance software architectures are able to display, automate and optimize the highly complex processes of hospitals and private practices. To meet these requirements Siemens developed the two software systems syngo and Soarian. The two systems connect – when applied together – the hospital’s clinical-administrative workflow (Soarian) seamlessly with the diagnostic- therapeutic processes in radiology (syngo) and affect a smooth dataflow across the various sectors. Important patient information is available immediately wherever required. At 15 different hospitals, new studies of Siemens have shown that syngo alone saves up to 50 percent of the time required for radiological examinations.
Syngo controls the workflow for image acquisitions, post-processing and reporting. The software consists of different modules that for one provide the user with a graphic, intuitive user interface for all imaging systems of Siemens – be it Computed (CT) or Magnetic Resonance Tomography (MRT), X-ray or therapy systems. This simplifies and accelerates acquisitions of high-value images. Using syngo, the radiological practice “radprax“ in Wuppertal was able to reduce the time required for MRT examinations by approximately 20%.
As an additional advantage for medical personnel, changes between different modalities can be handled without extensive training. Complementing this software package, Siemens offers customers a highly efficient, integrated RIS/PACS and post-processing solution for the IT network with syngo suite that optimizes the entire sequence beginning with scheduling by the referring physician, planning the examination, and ending with the report. The images from different systems as well as different departments such as radiology or cardiology are processed – supported by specific applications and so-called Clinical Engines, e.g. syngo Acute Care – within the shortest time possible, reported, and available via the network. As a result, all persons involved in the patient’s treatment have access to all relevant patient data, anywhere at any time.
Access by the individual clinical employee is handled via portals tailored to his needs to ensure that precisely all functions needed for his work are available from the syngo suite.
The transferring physician is able, for example, to comfortably schedule an examination for his patient at the hospital or a radiology practice via the “syngo Portal Referring Physician“ function on his computer. The digital results are returned to him immediately after the report has been completed by the radiologist - usually on the same day. At the hospital in Ingolstadt/Germany, 98 percent of all radiological examinations are diagnosed before 6 p.m. thanks to Siemens software.
“Through syngo – as compared to radiology departments without IT – the number of processing steps is reduced from 59 to 33,“ explained Professor Erich R. Reinhardt, member of the Executive Committee of Siemens AG and Chairman of the Board at Siemens Medical Solutions. “Many steps are automated and optimized with IT. This reduces errors as well as saves time and costs.”
The potential of information technology to optimize the workflow not only in radiology, but in entire hospitals or areas of the healthcare sector is a considerable one. As studies at Siemens customers have shown, approximately 30 percent of all costs can be saved at a completely digitized hospital. For this purpose, Siemens developed the hospital management system known as Soarian which controls, automates, and optimizes all clinical and administrative processes in hospitals. As early as during the admission of a patient - if not performed previously during an earlier examination – a digital patient record is created to store all data and reports created. To improve the workflow, Soarian provides physicians and clinical personnel with integrated work schedules for the fastest possible throughput of examinations and treatments required. In addition, the system is able to check the medication prescribed and warns in case of contra-indications or dangerous interactions. Consumables used during the examination are automatically reported to the materials management system of the hospital. Invoicing is handled based on all applicable regulations, for example DRG (Diagnosis Related Groups). Soarian ensures greater transparency of costs. Currently more than 300 hospitals worldwide work with Soarian or one of its modules (e.g. Soarian Clinical Access).
Used in combination, Soarian and syngo are an ideal match: prior to a diagnostic examination, Soarian supplies the radiology suite with all relevant patient data. After the report, Soarian integrates the acquired images and reports in the patient record and provides it via the network to all authorized personnel. This ensures a smooth data flow across the entire clinical treatment continuum, providing the treating physicians with a comprehensive information base for safe diagnosis and effective therapy.
These IT architectures and the innovative systems by Siemens provide physicians and hospitals with the full potential to maximize the quality of care and minimize costs. The recently introduced and worldwide first Dual Source Computed Tomograph (DSCT) Somatom Definition provides completely new possibilities in diagnostic imaging. The system includes two X-ray tubes and two detectors, enabling clinical images at previously unknown levels of speed and accuracy. Even for hearts that beat fast or irregularly, beta blockers are no longer required for reducing the heart rate. Despite the system’s two X-ray tubes, the radiation dose could be reduced by up to 50 percent as compared to conventional systems. The DSCT also includes capabilities not available in diagnostic imaging before: tissue and fluids can be displayed while differentiation of vessels, bones, and soft tissue has been improved. The first system was installed at the University Clinic of Erlangen in October 2005.
“Our innovations set trends in the healthcare sector – on an international basis,“ explained Professor Erich R. Reinhardt at the European Radiology Congress in Vienna. The company’s investments in research and development bespeak of this effort. In the past fiscal year, Med spent 728 million Euros, almost 10 percent of sales, on R&D. The results are accordingly: “Three quarters of our products are younger than three years,” so Reinhardt. “On each single workday, our developers apply for five patents.“ The customer is the focal point of Siemens. “We talk to our customers at length, examine all their problems and offer them tailor-made and future-oriented solutions,“ emphasized Reinhardt. And Siemens does not stop there: By integrating customers in the product development of Siemens, the company is able to consider their requirements and implement their requests at the most optimal level. This leads to a partnership that allows both sides to profit long-term – and, of course, the patient as well.
Siemens Medical Solutions is one of the world’s largest suppliers to the healthcare industry. The company is known for bringing together innovative medical technologies, healthcare information systems, management consulting, and support services, to help customers achieve tangible, sustainable, clinical and financial outcomes. From imaging systems for diagnosis, to therapy equipment for treatment, to patient monitors to hearing instruments and beyond, Siemens innovations contribute to the health and well-being of people across the globe, while improving operational efficiencies and optimizing workflow in hospitals, clinics, home health agencies, and doctors offices. Employing approximately 33.000 people worldwide and operating in more than 120 countries, Siemens Medical Solutions reported sales of 7.6 billion EUR, orders of 8.6 billion EUR and group profit of 1 billion EUR for fiscal 2005.
Axel Wieczorek | Siemens AG
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