Digital transformation affects every industry, and healthcare is no exception. Digital radiography is by no means a new concept — in fact it has been around for more than a decade. However, the kind of digital radiography that was introduced then was not what it is now, and significant improvements have been made to radiographic technology in that time.
How does digital radiography differ from traditional radiography?
For decades the primary method of radiography was through traditional x-ray film, and indeed this is still in practice for many healthcare providers. Instead of traditional x-ray film, digital radiography employs x-ray sensitive plates that directly capture data. This data is then immediately transferred to a computer system digitally, negating the need for film to be developed and transferred to digital archives through other means.
What is DR and CR in radiology?
Digital radiography has evolved to take a couple of different forms, the main ones being computed radiography and direct radiography. Generally in radiology, CR stands for computed radiography and DR stands for digital radiography (despite direct radiography having the same initials). Computed radiography utilizes a photostimulable phosphor plate to detect x-rays. The exposed plate is scanned with a helium-neon laser and the emitted light is captured by a tube that converts and digitizes it. On the other hand, direct radiography employs a semiconductor-based sensor that directly converts x-ray energy directly into electrical signals — hence the name.
What are three advantages of digital radiography?
There are a lot of advantages of making the switch from traditional to digital radiography. Here are three:
1. Ease of use
As with most modern technological developments, the primary objective is to increase efficiency. Such is the case with digital radiography. Making the switch provides a much more efficient process than traditional film radiography. Just a few of the ways in which it accomplishes this included:
- An immediate preview of the image is available, giving the ability to immediately view images that would otherwise have required waiting for a film to be developed.
- The ability to enhance those images, as well as other processing techniques that improve the overall quality of images. This also means fewer retakes are necessary.
- Furthermore, a wider dynamic range lessens the chance of over and under exposure.
- Easy data storage — you can not only view images immediately, but store them without having to deal with mountains of physical files and cabinets.
2. Less radiation
A huge advantage of DR is the benefits it provides to the health of patients. Significantly less radiation is required to produce the same quality as film — in fact, as much as 70% less radiation is required.
3. Better service for patients
Overall, DR simply provides a better, more efficient service for patients. This is a combined result of the above advantages, but also a few additional ones, including:
- There is no longer the risk of film being lost or misfiled.
- Digital Images are not only much easier to store, but more immediately accessible and available to instantly pull up and view when needed. This, in turn, makes it easier to track important patient information.
- Furthermore, it is much faster and easier to transfer images and other relevant information digitally to other departments or facilities.
- This, in turn, creates more efficient communication between the healthcare providers themselves, and between providers and physicians.
Another huge benefit is the amount of money that you can save. This is not only because of the streamlined process, but as a result of a government incentive that lessens the reimbursement received for using traditional radiography. You can read more of the details about his benefit here.
You can improve your radiology workflow with the Novarad radiology information system, or Nova RIS. The Nova RIS allows you to track patient information, procedures, exam status, revenue, and insurance all in one system. It also provides you with the capability to generate reports based on CPT or revenue codes. Radiology departments can be managed much more effectively through utilizing Nova RIS, as it provides greater visibility into operations, better communication, and a more efficient and accurate workflow. Furthermore, there are no concerns regarding integration, as it seamlessly works with HIS or PACS.
Digital radiography is ultimately not just a step forward for treating patients, but a smart business decision for any radiology department.