"I suspect radiation dose monitoring will be the topic of much ongoing conversation in 2014, and its software will be among the highlights on expo floors at upcoming radiology and radiation oncology conferences," Melinda Taschetta-Millane the editorial director of Imaging Technology News said this spring.

Two female medical professionals in a clinic settingWhy?

Radiation dose monitoring now a required capability for imaging centers

The use of computed tomography (CT) scans and other radiation-based diagnostic imaging has increased greatly in the past decade, as improvements in technology have increased their usefulness. A 2012 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) looked at imaging records from six large integrated health care systems and found that the rate of use for CT scans tripled between 1996 and 2010, from 52/1000 enrollees in 1996 to 149/1000 in 2010.

Researchers also found a four-fold increase in per capita radiation exposure from CT scans during that period.

Cumulative radiation exposure is growing

While CT scans offer important, often life-saving diagnostic information, the cumulative radiation dose from multiple scans has caused concern within the healthcare community, and the Joint Commission has added patient radiation exposure monitoring to its requirements for accreditation. Fortunately, the 2012 study found that, since about 2008, the rate of increase in studies has slowed in response to concerns about radiation exposure, but use of CT scans remains high and radiation dose monitoring has become a hot-button issue for most radiology facilities.

Because the Dell Cloud Clinical Archive is one of the largest medical image archives in the world, we are looking at ways to offer analytic tools that will empower our community to gain insights from the data they store with us. On the front end of this effort is a dose reporting system that accurately records exposure on a patient, study or modality basis, as well as offering sophisticated analytic and reporting capabilities to monitor clinical protocols for ionizing radiation devices.

Dell is partnering with PHS Technologies Group, a division of PACSHealth, which is a medical software development company. We became interested in their radiation dose monitoring software, DoseMonitor®, because one of our customers has been using the software for the past year and we have been impressed with its capabilities. After a rigorous vetting process, we are now offering their software as a service, DoseMonitor® OnLine, to our cloud archive customers to allow them to monitor their radiation doses and clinical protocols and to meet the Joint Commission requirement for radiation monitoring.

Ability to look at historic data can help clinicians make wise decisions

The DoseMonitor OnLine solution not only records current dose data for each patient, it also allows providers to look back at previous exposure from studies done at any of their facilities. This allows providers to easily compare, aggregate and interpret data from multiple ionizing radiation sources to accurately depict cumulative exposure. As a result, clinicians can be alerted to potential high radiation dose levels before additional exposure occurs. This gives clinicians the ability to consider cumulative exposure as they make decisions about the best care for their patients.

DoseMonitor is certified by the American College of Radiology to upload data to the national Dose Index Registry, which provides benchmark data for institutions that contribute to the registry. Dell Cloud Clinical Archive customers who use DoseMonitor OnLine will be able to participate in the registry and compare their practices and protocols against the community.

At the enterprise level, the software offers the ability to look at the data in multiple ways: by patient, device, physician, technologist, type of study, even by body part involved. That means that facilities can look across the entire enterprise to identify problems that would be difficult to see without this analytic capability.

Dell believes that DoseMonitor OnLine will give our cloud archive customers significant new analytic abilities in their quest to make patient care safer and more effective. It’s another step to creating a learning community that helps all participants do a better job.