LAKE SUCCESS, N.Y. General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt and Michael Dowling, CEO of North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System (North Shore-LIJ), have announced a new initiative to reduce radiation from computed tomography (CT) by using dose-management software and advanced CT systems.
At a press conference at the health system's Center for Advanced Medicine here on June 21, the executives discussed how GE's Blueprint platform could reduce CT radiation doses by 50 percent.
With about 5,467 beds, North Shore-LIJ is the second-largest nonprofit secular health system in the United States. It operates on Long Island and in New York City.
CT technology is used to screen for cancer, heart conditions and neurological problems. It aids clinicians in deciding on the right course of treatments, said Dowling.
Although GE has been working on reducing radiation doses for more than 30 years, North Shore-LIJ's deployment is one of the first health system-wide implementations of GE's Blueprint platform, according to Steve Gray, vice president and general manager for GE Healthcare Computed Tomography.
GE plans to use this implementation as a model for other health systems to use, including Advocate Health System in Chicago and Intermountain Health in Salt Lake City, the company reported.
"This system I think can be the model that we can implement many times around the rest of the country and around the world," Immelt said.
Blueprint incorporates GE's DoseWatch exposure-monitoring software. Launched in November 2011, DoseWatch allows doctors to measure, monitor and optimize patient dose over time, according to GE.
"[DoseWatch is] a server-based system that you hook up to each of the scanners on the network that can monitor, measure and record the dose of every CT scan you do," Gray told eWEEK.
It connects to the picture archiving and communication systems (PACS) that providers use to store medical images. The software can monitor the radiation doses of any vendor, including GE, Philips or Siemens, said Gray.
"We will be able to track radiation exposures for each of our patients," Dr. John Pellerito, CT imaging chief and associate chairman, North Shore LIJ Radiology, told eWEEK.
By monitoring radiation doses using DoseWatch, hospital systems such as North Shore-LIJ will be able to track dose levels across patient populations, Gray explained.
"There are some quality control tools to do trending and statistics that will really help you control that dose, reduce the variation and take the mean down over time," said Gray. "It really is a statistical quality-control process that is hooked up on the network and automates everything so that it's seamless to the user."
By lowering the doses and tracking this data across patient populations, CT scans could be reduced to the level of X-rays, said Pellerito.
"The goal is to get the dose so low as to be relatively insignificant," he said.
North-Shore LIJ will examine trends for each type of CT scan, including chest, abdominal area and head. The hospital system will be able to do comparisons over a time period such as the next two or three years, said Pellerito.
Doctors will also eventually store data from DoseWatch in patients' electronic health records (EHRs), said Gray.
"No question that that information will be stored in the patient's medical record, and everything obviously is PACS now, so it will be stored directly with the images in the patient's medical record," said Pellerito.
GE Blueprint also includes Veo and Adaptive Statistical Iterative Reconstruction (ASiR) applications, which allow doctors to reconstruct medical images to eliminate noise while retaining the clinical content, according to Gray. Veo's CT image-reconstruction capabilities allow doctors to perform CT scans at under 1 millisievert, a measure of radiation that offers "profound clarity," according to GE.
As part of a three-year, $50 million investment, North Shore-LIJ will also implement 15 new GE CT systems at 10 health facilities on Long Island and in New York City.
Other vendors have been working to implement software that lowers radiation doses. On June 7 Nuance announced that it would integrate its PowerScribe 360 Reporting with Radimetrics' eXposure system to automate radiation dosage reporting.
Integrating the GE Blueprint CT scanners and software with IT systems at North Shore-LIJ will be a "work in progress," said Pellerito.
"We're going to be working very closely with our IT people to see which is the best way to store the information and review the data," said Pellerito.
The GE Blueprint strategy fits into the company's Healthymagination initiative to focus on cost, quality and access to health care, Immelt said.
"We think it's important to not only have great technology but to also use it effectively and make it available and drive things like quality and patient safety," Immelt said. "And it's this umbrella that shapes all of our investing and all of our technology going forward."