From the September 2016 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
While many facilities have now installed dose tracking and analysis software, these same facilities have found that this software can’t just be installed and then left to run unattended. To provide value (i.e., to help optimize doses), the software requires someone with the appropriate education, training and expertise to initially configure it; to update it as equipment, personnel, practices and needs change; and to analyze, report, interpret and act upon the data it produces. Many facilities have found that their diagnostic medical physicist is the best person to perform this function, as this person has both radiation and medical imaging equipment expertise, understands the dose values output by CT scanners and is usually well-trained in data analysis and statistics.
The diagnostic medical physicist is also not typically responsible for time-sensitive, patient-centered tasks throughout the day in the same manner as a technologist or radiologist, and thus is able to more easily structure the longer periods of work time that these types of analytical activities require. Medical physicists are not necessarily qualified or prepared to help manage a successful CT dose optimization program just by virtue of being physicists.
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Facilities are learning that the designated physicist needs to have additional training and experience, specifically in CT dose optimization, and detailed knowledge of the dose reduction features on the facility’s CT scanners to ensure success. Facilities that utilize contracted physicists have found that there are fundamental differences between the consultative work required by a physicist as part of the CT dose optimization program, and the episodic work that most contracted physicists normally do (e.g., periodic equipment testing, shielding plans, fetal dose calculations, etc.).
If the physicist or the physics firm is not set up for, and not experienced with, client engagements involving frequent and ongoing communication, this can lead to problems. The most successful facilities discuss this issue openly with their current medical physics provider and accurately evaluate their provider’s ability to deliver these much more sophisticated and interactive services. Facilities with in-house physics support generally do not face this problem.
However, all facilities, regardless of whether they use in-house or contracted medical physicists, need to plan for the considerable increase in time that proper configuration and oversight of dose tracking and analysis software entails.