Walk 311 Miles in My Shoes: Every Step, Click, Push and Pull of this X-ray System is Designed With Technologists in Mind

Emily Niles

As people  live longer,[1] the number of patients  who require medical services rises. X-ray imaging, the first scan many patients encounter in their diagnostic journey, accounts for 60 percent of all imaging scans.[2] As a result, X-ray technologists, radiology administrators, and radiologists are faced with ever-increasing caseloads. Meanwhile, pressure continues to build on already strained Radiology Departments in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Each year, an X-ray technologist (tech) can log hundreds of miles walking at work. And it’s not just the steps that contribute to fatigue and burnout. Click – push – pull – and walk!  A typical day requires an X-ray tech to take all these different actions just to perform one single action in a workflow. Whether it’s dragging the machine from one place to the other, or walking back and forth to position the patient, the Bucky or the tube, each of these steps start to add up over time and can lead to negative results–from increase in overall exam time to increased physical exertion of the technologist to errors and stress.

…I don’t want to do the wrong thing, I don’t want to do the wrong body part, I don’t want to have to expose this person more than I have to – that’s our goal as a technologist – to provide the best patient care… says Nadia Dorson, X-ray Technologist at North Central Bronx Hospital.

So, the GE Healthcare X-ray team challenged themselves to innovate a new fixed X-ray system with the biggest challenges technologists face in mind. 

A “personal assistant” that’s there for you, so you can be there for them

The team began by calculating the number of steps a tech takes on average while performing an exam with the goal of reducing those steps to ultimately reduce burnout and fatigue. On average, a tech works 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year and takes approximately 9.5 minutes and 52 steps, with each step averaging 2.4 ft., per exam - which amounts to walking 311 miles a year.[3]

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With that knowledge, the team designed a new fixed X-ray system, the Definium Tempo[4], that acts as a “personal assistant” cutting the number of miles a tech walks over the course of a year. 

This comes as great news for techs like Nadia Dorson and Indranantha Kumar who described the immediate positive impact the Definium Tempo had on their work in comparison to the excessive steps, actions and manual movements required while operating in the traditional system.

I’ve been a technologist for over 17 years and using this system has been unlike anything I’ve experienced before. It’s like having a person inside the room with you at all times...It’s like having a second technologist.

“I’ve been a technologist for over 17 years and using this system has been unlike anything I’ve experienced before. It’s a person inside the room with you at all times. It’s like you’re never working alone. It’s like a second technologist,” said Nadia Dorson. “When you’re in front of your patient, you’re able to double check the patient’s information, which is really important in making sure you’re setting up the exam properly…The camera provides real-time information on the patient so you can make necessary adjustments. And everything is as light as a feather, even down to the grid so I’m able to function better and am not encountering some of the day-to-day wear and tear I’ve experienced in the past.”

New to X-ray, Indranantha Kumar at North Central Bronx Hospital saw and felt the impact immediately:

“This machine makes it feel like there’s a co-worker with you 24/7 assisting you … you can do everything in the room before you go back to your personal control center saving a lot of time. Compared to the old machines, when I’m ready to clock out of work for the day, I’m not as tired as I would be if I were dragging a machine across the room. It takes a lot of stress off the body.”

Not only are technologists feeling the benefit, but Radiology Departments see the results of improved efficiency as well.

This has a direct impact on the patient, because when you have technologists spending less time looking at screens and more time being with the patient, patients feel more reassured and less anxious.

“The system has helped strengthen the role of the technologist as a member of the larger health care team,” shares Dr. Orlando Ortiz, Radiologist at North Central Bronx Hospital. “All of a sudden the team becomes that much more effective, because as you strengthen each link, you get a better chain overall. This has a direct impact on the patient, because when you have technologists spending less time looking at screens and more time being with the patient, patients feel more reassured and less anxious. The technology in this case has gotten it right, we’re actually doing the right thing for the patient because it enables the technologist to focus on one of the reasons they wanted to become a technologist in the first place: to take care of people.”

When patients notice a difference, the GE Healthcare team and the techs using the system agree the right challenge has been addressed: 

“The patients even recognize – wait that’s it, I’m done? The patient was happy, and I was able to give all of my time to that patient and it was just a really nice feeling to be able to be there for them,” reported Jeannie Miller,  Associated Director, North Central Bronx Hospital.

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Innovating Technology to Reduce Burnout

Burdened with the stress and pressure to keep the radiology department running smoothly, a team effort is required between technologists, radiologists, and administrators to collectively drive efficiency and improve outcomes. However, traditional X-ray systems don’t meet today’s needs and often impede these efforts; from numerous workflow steps and imprecise operation to complicated patient setup, poor image quality, physically demanding movements, and limited clinical applications.

The efficiency imperative in healthcare has been years in the making, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated the rate of change and urgency.

Every component of the care must uplift each individual who interacts with the system in order to provide the best patient care possible. This philosophy is at the center of the design for GE Healthcare’s next-generation, fixed X-ray system Definium Tempo.

The Definium Tempo: A Step in the Right Direction

The Definium Tempo system was designed for technologists, so technologist can be there for those they care for the most–their patients.

As healthcare systems continue to face pressures as a result of the pandemic and society demands, addressing just one click, push, pull, or step can make all the difference.

REFERENCES

[1] World Population Prospects 2019 (United Nations, 2019)

[2] World Health Organization Report -Communicating Radiation Risks in Pediatric Imaging

[3] GEHC Engineering Data on File. Calculations are based a technologist working 40 hours per week, 52 weeks a year with an exam time of 9.5 minutes. The distance walked per exam is calculated at 52 steps with each step being 2.4 ft.  The distance per year is derived by multiplying the number of steps per exam, by the number of feet per step, by the number of exams per year. 

[4] The Definium Tempo is not available for sale in all regions.