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Film Disappears as Digital Images Preside
Radiology’s Image Service Center, formerly called the Film Library, is counting the ways BWH and its patients benefit from the conversion to electronic images. Today, 90 percent of the hundreds of thousands of images annually produced by Radiology are electronic. The 10 percent of images still printed on film are used mainly in the OR.
The departure from film benefits the hospital and patients in several ways, including the efficiency with which the images are ready.
“Patients’ images can be interpreted electronically the moment they are completed, saving time on a patient’s diagnosis,” Larry Wyche, manager of Radiology Imaging Operations, said. The images are available immediately via Centricity, the BWH digital distribution system. Authorized staff members can access the images through any work station in the Partners network. As a result, physicians and clinics no longer wait for X-ray film copies. When a physician or patient needs an X-ray to take to another location, the Image Service Center burns the images onto CDs. The center is capable of burning 10 different images of one patient onto a CD for free.
The digital images also are cheaper, as printed film requires film handlers, film, printers, paper jackets and storage space. The space saved by eliminating film storage was converted into a six-bed recovery room.
In addition, electronic images are more easily accessible and shared than printed film, which frequently was misplaced. Image Service representative John L. Spriggs helps ensure that patient images are accessible so that physicians can expedite their patients’ care and treatment.
“Time makes a difference to our patients,” said Altagracia Melo, Image Service representative.