Rural Illinois hospital completes transition to digital radiology

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St. Margaret’s Health of Spring Valley, Ill., is pursuing a transition to digital radiology with the installation of multiple radiological systems from Rochester, N.Y.-based Carestream Health.

The purchases represent a major investment for the facility, which serves a rural community 70 miles north of Bloomington, Ill.

The installation includes three DRX-Evolution Plus and DRX-Evolution systems, four DRX-Ascend Systems and two DRX-Revolution Mobile X-ray Systems.

The new equipment, purchased for its orthopedic clinic and other clinics, rounds out a transition to digital radiology that the hospital began several years ago, says Karen Gress, the hospital’s Vice President of Ancillary and Support Services.

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St. Margaret’s standardized on Carestream equipment because it is “user friendly for the technician, resulting in faster and higher quality images,” Gress said. Following this latest purchase, staff members know they will have a consistent experience with the equipment and its software even when working at different clinics, she said.

Some of the equipment St. Margaret’s had in place previously was starting to show its age, although it still worked, and included film-based X-ray units, as well as computed radiography (CR) equipment, Gress said. CR units require images to be recorded on a phosphor plate prior to conversion to a digital image. Switching to a fully digital system means images can be instantly available, displayed on screen in the radiology room or (with a portable unit) the examination room. Digital images can also be transmitted instantly to a radiologist or a physician at a different location or at home.

“We felt as a hospital that we wanted to convert everything over to digital. The quality is better, and there is a decrease in the radiation dose required as well,” Gress said.

The decision was also reflected the federal government’s push towards digital radiology, with lower reimbursement from federal healthcare programs for radiology services based on either film or, starting in 2018, on CR systems, Gress said.

Carestream’s DRX-Evolution Plus system captures exams in the hospital’s primary X-ray room. A DRX-Evolution unit is used for general radiography exams in an adjacent room. One-third of the hospital’s exams are conducted with mobile X-ray systems that capture inpatient images requested by physicians. A DRX-Revolution captures extremity and other types of exams in the ER, and another DRX-Revolution is used for portable exams that include morning rounds and verification of PICC line and tube placements.

Four DRX-Ascend systems are located at two urgent care clinics, a remote outpatient clinic and a hospital-based clinic.

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