AHRA and Toshiba Announce 2009 Putting Patients First Grants

Dec. 15, 2009

TUSTIN, Calif., Dec. 14, 2009 – Recognizing the need for programs that improve patient safety and quality care, AHRA: The Association for Medical Imaging Management and Toshiba America Medical Systems, Inc. announced the six recipients of the second annual Putting Patients First grant program.

The AHRA and Toshiba Putting Patients First grant program seeks to improve patient care and safety in diagnostic imaging by offering grants to fund programs, trainings and seminars at local hospitals and imaging centers. This year, three additional grants were given specifically for pediatric programs. The awardees include: Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta of Egleston (Atlanta, Ga.), Community Health Network (Indianapolis, Ind.), Memorial Hermann Outpatient Imaging Division (Houston, Texas), Highline Medical Center (Burien, Wash.), Shields Health Care (Quincy, Mass.), and St. Patrick Hospital (Missoula, Mont.). These awardees were selected by the AHRA selection committee to receive up to $7,500 grants to fund programs, trainings or seminars aimed at improving patient care and safety in diagnostic imaging.  Putting Patients First is funded by an unrestricted educational grant from Toshiba America Medical Systems, Inc.  As part of the grant program, recipients will publish an article in an AHRA publication about their innovative programs and create a best-practices tool that can be adapted by other hospitals.

“Grant programs like Putting Patients First are critical given today’s health care environment and the pressures hospitals face due to limited resources and other financial challenges,” said Debra A. Lopez, AHRA president, CRA, FAHRA.  “This year’s winning programs demonstrated quality and innovation in patient care.  They will make significant improvements to patient care and better the imaging experience for physicians and patients, alike.”

The programs funded by the AHRA/Toshiba Putting Patients First grants include:

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston – Use of Bismuth Shields in All CT Exams

  • Several recent publications report radiation dose reduction benefits when using bismuth shielding for pediatric patients undergoing multidectector CT. Therefore, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston will implement the use of bismuth shields in all patients undergoing CT examinations. Implementation of this shielding program will entail staff training, purchase of bismuth breast and thyroid shields, ongoing review of images, development of resident and parental educational programs, and a cost analysis.

Community Health Network – Pediatric CT Imaging Simulation Program

  • By enabling pediatric patients to better understand the CT imaging process, radiation dose will effectively be reduced, patient comfort will be improved and the overall imaging experience will be safer. Therefore, Community Health Network will create an Internet-based simulation program to educate pediatric patients and their caregivers about the diagnostic imaging process (focused on CT).  By incorporating audio, avatars and animation through a user-friendly computer program, patients will know what to expect of the imaging process and be more comfortable and compliant during the procedure.

Memorial Hermann Outpatient Imaging Division – Improved Process Program

  • Memorial Hermann’s goal is to emphasize the importance of keeping radiation dose during CT procedures as low as reasonably achievable for pediatric patients, while still maintaining good image quality. It also recognizes the need for more education for the technologists and pediatricians on pediatric radiation safety. Therefore, Memorial Hermann will implement the Improvement Process Program to: 1) document the dose electronically PACS; 2) scan once – multiphase scanning is usually not necessary in children; 3) reduce or “child-size” the amount of radiation used; 4) audit and evaluate image quality monthly; and 5) provide physician and technologist continued education.

Highline Medical Center – Improvement Project for Scheduling Inpatients for Imaging Exams

  • One of Highline Medical Center’s goals is to provide a patient-centered environment that personalizes, humanizes and demystifies patient care. Therefore, Highland Medical Center is undertaking an improvement project to develop, implement and spread a process for scheduling inpatients for imaging exams to accomplish safer patient care through: 1) better communication among the staff caring for the patient; 2) increasing involvement of the patient in his/her own care; 3) better coordination between services for tests and treatments leading to streamlined clinical pathway; 4) eliminating delayed/missed or incorrect imaging exams; 5) improving patient flow to potentially decrease overall length of stay; and 6) having imaging techs rounding on patients prior to high risk, invasive or advanced imaging procedures.

Shields Health Care – Understanding and Reducing Patient Anxiety

  • Shields Health Care wants to engage the patient in a common language that educates and reduces patient anxiety. Therefore, Shields Health Care will develop multilingual web-based tools as well as professional staff training. Phase one of the program will be to research causes and develop solutions; phase two will be to implement and cross train professionals and technical staff; and phase three will be dedicated to reflection on lessons learned and measuring program effectiveness and outcomes.

St. Patrick Hospital – Interactive Utility to Improve the Imaging Process

  • Inaccurate or inappropriate exam orders contribute to increased costs to patients, staff and facilities in terms of dose, money and time. Therefore, St. Patrick Hospital will create on its intranet Web site an interactive utility that is readily accessible to all staff to provide guidance regarding appropriate imaging studies and help facilitate clear exam orders to maximize the value of imaging studies. Once the program is developed for intranet users, St. Patrick Hospital will provide a condensed version of the utility on its hospital Web site with more links to helpful information in order to improve patient understanding of the process. This version also will be a tool used by clinicians and staff when discussing exam specifics with patients.


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