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ABSTRACT: Our echocardiography laboratory has completed the transition from an analog to a digital imaging laboratory. The process involved a thorough analysis of the practice and design of a complete digital solution. After an effective implementation of a robust reporting solution, the transition to digital imaging ensued. The implementation plan for digital imaging enabled the transition to be made without adversely affecting the practice, which has an average daily examination load of more than 200 patients. Full-load testing simulations were required on high-end image processing review workstations, high-speed local area network connections to each imaging suite, and new clustered imaging servers. We had to test the ability of approximately 100 ultrasound machines with 3 idiosyncratic ultrasound platforms to allow digital image transfer to the new imaging servers over the local area network. Our sonographer, allied health, and physician staff of more than 250 persons had to be trained to adapt to important changes that the digital echocardiographic image acquisition and review platform would have on their specific roles in the laboratory. The efficiency of the implementation, reporting, and imaging resulted in improved staff resource allocation. The lessons learned may benefit laboratories with a similar interest in making the transition to a digital imaging laboratory with minimal effect on patient scheduling and staff satisfaction. The effect of the transition to a completely digital laboratory on operating expenses, imaging, and reviewing systems and the impact on the clinical practice of echocardiography at our institution are presented, with emphasis on the particular aspects of transitioning to digital imaging.
Journal of the American Society of Echocardiography 12/2004; 17(11):1214-24. · 4.28 Impact Factor