St. Maria General Hospital, Halle

How to save time on implementation while creating brilliant workflows

Best practices ensured faster PACS deployment at St. Maria General Hospital in Belgium

Our healthcare system is not immune to the pressures of today’s economy. And we all know that hospitals are short of technical staff. On top of that, radiology departments are struggling with heavy workloads, while also dealing with staffing shortages caused by retirement, burnout, and pandemic-related stress.
   
In challenging times like this, efficiency can provide a roadmap to success. We spoke to Dr. Robin Peters, Head of Medical Imaging at St. Maria General Hospital in Belgium, and Robin Van de Gruiter, Application Specialist at Sectra, about best practices to create brilliant workflows and to save time on implementation. This is how we use best practices.

Best practices and blueprints

At Sectra, we use our best practices approach to shape our deployment methods and workflow configurations. These practices come from 30 years of expertise carrying out 2,000+ installations all over the world, and hands-on experience from Sectra’s “best people”. As Robin, many of Sectra’s employees have worked as radiologists, PACS administrators, technologists, and lab technicians. They have an in-depth understanding of the clinical challenges radiologists face on a daily basis.

Sectra’s best practices are applied to different parts of the PACS installation—such as functional configuration and HL7 connections—and together they form blueprints for our brilliant workflows.

After going live, I usually go back to the customer for several days to assess whether they are using the system to its full potential. It’s a shame if a hospital buys a feature but it gets snowed under after implementation.

Robin Van de Gruiter, Application Specialist at Sectra

Process

We start our process by listening. We send out a questionnaire to the customer about their current way of working, asking about the radiologists’ monitor setup, roles and permissions, and automatic urgency, just to name a few areas.

Next, we combine their answers with our workflow best practices to create a customized blueprint. The customer then only needs to review this blueprint. “We try to come as close to perfect as we possibly can during the first review with the customer. That is why these questionnaires have immense value. While best practices say something about the most efficient way of working, we cannot automatically apply that for every hospital. A small local hospital will have different needs than a large university hospital. The questionnaire helps us get a complete overview to make the transition as seamless as possible,” says Robin.

Afterwards, we create an extensive proposal for the workflow and, together with the customer, review it step by step—going over roles and permissions, layout, worklists and display protocols, reporting and add-ons.

Continuous learning

“We usually combine review days with training,” says Robin. “It is common to train PACS administrators for four to five days at the beginning of a project. But these projects can take months, and something that was explained four months ago might not be as clear now. That’s why we share the knowledge exactly when they need it.” The next step in the process is optimizing the workflows and fine-tuning them based on feedback, after which we are ready for go-live.

“After going live, I usually go back to the customer for several days to assess whether they are using the system to its full potential,” says Robin. “It’s a shame if a hospital buys a feature but it gets snowed under after implementation.”

Sectra also had specific questions for the radiologists and took great care of their needs. Everything went smoothly because the meetings were very focused, with lists to be ticked off. That way, you can systematically move forward in the project

Dr. Robin Peters, Head of Medical Imaging at St. Maria General Hospital

Applying Sectra’s best practices strategy at St. Maria General Hospital

Dr. Peters trained as a radiologist and serves as Head of Medical Imaging at St. Maria General Hospital in Halle, Belgium. He is committed to advancing the radiology department. About a year ago, St. Maria General Hospital was looking for a new radiology PACS, and Dr. Peters felt it was important to conduct market research before switching. This was prompted by a growing need for a system in which updates and additional tools could be easily implemented.

Dr. Peters says: “We then started mapping out what we needed and which party best suited our department’s needs. Good support is very important to us, so we made sure to speak to other radiologists about their experience.” About a year ago, they established contact with Sectra. “They visited our department and offered us an in-depth demo of their system. That really added value.”

A knowledge partner in workflow design

Instead of leaving the workflow configuration entirely to the hospital’s PACS administrators and radiologists, adding an immense workload to both, the department chose to partner with Sectra. Thanks to the best practices strategy, the department gained access to Sectra’s knowledge and experience from other hospitals in assessing the optimal workflow setup. Dr. Peters explains: “This process started in September 2022 and included several meetings and review days with steering groups. Technical and IT staff, radiologists, and experts from Sectra were all deeply involved. We held on-site and online meetings to discuss the current situation and where we wanted to go.”

After filling in an extensive questionnaire about their current way of working, two colleagues were assigned to work on the project. They then coordinated everything with Dr. Peters. “Sectra also had specific questions for the radiologists and took great care of their needs. Everything went smoothly because the meetings were very focused, with lists to be ticked off. That way, you can systematically move forward in the project.”

The review days saved time because of the efficient way of working. “The burden on our colleagues and radiologists was minimal. Mapping out our needs was mainly a verification process. This was an excellent form of consultation because essentially nothing was changed after the PACS implementation.”

You can easily refer to specific images in the report to make it more visual and integrated. It is a very user-friendly and intuitive PACS. You can start working independently right away.

Dr. Robin Peters, Head of Medical Imaging at St. Maria General Hospital

During the review process, Dr. Peters took notice of Sectra’s proposals for addressing specific problems. “For emergency examinations, for example, they proposed an urgency hierarchy of cases based on a color-coding system. That was new to us, and really is a great feature. In addition, the modality-based worklists work very well. And if you want to adjust a report after sending it back to the referring physician, you get two minutes to do so before it is permanently sent out.”

The impact of working with a tailored PACS

According to the radiologists from St. Maria General Hospital, the Sectra PACS is a noticeable step up from the previous system. “The quality has improved. In terms of functionality, but also efficiency and easy collaboration. The new PACS also offers many more tools that we are very excited to work with.”

Beyond quality and functionality, Dr. Peters mentions the impact of the knowledge gained from the partnership with Sectra. “They are incredibly open to questions and reply promptly. I look forward to our upcoming follow-up days to learn more about the system and how it can be further optimized.”

Start with a good plan

Finally, Dr. Peters recommends planning ahead when you want to change your PACS. “The more workflows and configurations are thought out in advance, the easier the implementation of those workflows. Having an enterprise imaging vendor with a clinical knowledge base is essential.”

Featured products & services