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A Crossroads?

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, December 13, 2011
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In the wake of healthcare reform, hospitals may be challenged more than ever to justify large capital expenses in radiology departments and how they support a hospitals’ strategic plan, says John Hart, administrative director of radiology for  St. Joseph’s Healthcare System in Paterson, NJ.

Those costs include what Hart called a “booming business” of vendors that sell imaging plates, which retrofit analog equipment to generate digital images, Hart says, referring to images stored on a picture-archiving and communication system.
 
“PACS has become a necessary investment not only for radiology, but for all service lines in the hospital,” Hart says. “Expenditures for PACS to store images will continue. The design and purchase of radiology information systems that make operations more efficient and that easily allow data sharing with patient information systems inside and outside the hospital will increase.”

Those retrofit systems are a “great industry response to shrinking capital dollars and the need to be more efficient,” Hart adds.

But hospital systems must watch closely the extent of their expenditures to ensure they are not spending beyond their means for imaging equipment.

“Moving forward, I think radiology departments to an even larger degree than before will need to justify large capital expenses in terms of their cost efficiency or how they support the hospital’s strategic plan and growing service lines,” Hart adds.

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