Physicians at Baltimore VA Say They Prefer Filmless Radiology System

July 1, 1997
Oncology NEWS International, Oncology NEWS International Vol 6 No 7, Volume 6, Issue 7

BOSTON--A medical center that has gone to a completely filmless radiology department got a show of support from the medical and surgical staff.

BOSTON--A medical center that has gone to a completely filmless radiologydepartment got a show of support from the medical and surgical staff.

In a survey conducted after the system had been in use for three years,more than three fourths of respondents (78%) at the Baltimore VA MedicalCenter said they strongly preferred the filmless system over conventionalx-ray film. Only 7% said they still preferred film, and 15% had no preference.

The Picture Archival and Communications System (PACS) in operation atthe Baltimore VA is a digital medical imaging network that can be usedby the entire hospital staff for storing and retrieving radiologic images.Overall, PACS results in increased efficiency, improved availability ofimages, and better use of physicians' time, lead investigator Zenon Protopapas,MD, said at the American Roentgen Ray Society annual meeting.

Dr. Protopapas, who was on the radiology staff at the VA hospital whenthe study was conducted, is now affiliated with the Hospital of St. Raphael,New Haven, Conn.

Questionnaires were mailed to 280 attending physicians, residents, andphysician assistants, most of whom worked both at the filmless BaltimoreVA and the film-based University of Maryland Hospital. The response ratewas 40%.

The feeling that the filmless system contributes to a more efficientuse of clinical time was almost universal, with 90% of respondents in agreement.Close to 80% of those surveyed said the filmless system actually savedtime--on average, 36 minutes per day per physician. The respondents reportedaccessing the system a median of three to five times a day.

More than half (57%) said that PACS use did not change the frequencywith which they consult with radiologists; 35% reported a decreased frequency,and 8% reported an increase.

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