Rome wasn’t built in a day; great achievements take time, so they say. But in the increasing complexity of the present-day healthcare industry, we can’t afford to wait for history to unfold. New solutions are needed now.
That’s why I’m excited about the rapid deployment and robust features of GE Healthcare’s new X-ray Quality Application, featuring Repeat/Reject Analytics (RRA). As the system architect for this new application, I’d like to give you a brief overview of the agile development method and beta testing process for this powerful new solution.
Why an X-ray Quality Application?
Examining how often X-ray images are rejected, and the reasons behind the rejected images, can help reduce patient exposure to unnecessary radiation through repeated exams, as well as unnecessary rework by radiology staff.
Over the last year, we worked to create something that can gather X-ray data and analyze it to reveal image reject causes. And we’ve learned a lot in the beta testing of the app, which we applied to help future installations.
A Balance Between Rigor and Speed
The X-ray Quality Application is not classified as a medical device therefore its design cycle required less documentation than an X-ray clinical application. This was a distinct advantage when trying to nimbly develop the X-ray Quality Application because we had more flexibility to structure our design, testing, integration and deployment so that each stage maintained an appropriate focus on rigor and discipline without getting caught in the minutiae of medical device documentation requirements.
In short, we ran lean, with a small team and lightweight tools for managing the development cycle. The process allowed us to move quickly into collaborations with initial customers from which we gained a wealth of insight that has helped us improve rapidly.
The Key Challenge of Network Security
Initially, the top concern was getting our X-ray Quality Application to fit within our customers’ network configurations, which turned out to be a tricky issue to resolve given the intricate framework of firewalls and site-specific security processes within healthcare IT organizations.
Getting our beta sites up and running involved a full day of working with network settings, another day installing software, and a final day connecting the X-ray devices one by one.
One important lesson learned in this process: mobile X-ray equipment poses additional connection challenges due to wireless networks, which could be managed at the enterprise level with multiple stakeholders located outside the radiology department.
We now know to identify the wireless network management stakeholders right away.
Improving How Data Appears
The fundamental focus of beta testing is the user experience (UX). Perhaps the most important UX issue is the way the data is presented. RRA provides a dashboard that can be served in different ways—by fixed or mobile system, by time frame, or by technologist. Our experience in beta led us to include a comprehensive, technologist-focused view in the mix of dashboard options.
A few other additions we’ve made since beta testing include:
• Connectivity status. A color-coded view lets the user know if the data is current or if the device connection needs attention.
• Rejection source. Data can be prioritized based on who rejects an image and when, to provide crucial insight into root causes.
• User name harmonization. An aggregator that reconciles variants of the same user name into one operator profile for clean, accurate dashboard data.
Every medical facility has its own workflow. But thanks to the beta experience, we’re ready to scale up to organizations of any size, and we’re confident that each new installation will help customers save time, increase throughput, reduce rejected images and improve the patient experience.
Will your facility be next?