A purported benefit of digital imaging and archiving of radiographic procedures is the
presumption of time savings to radiologists, radiology technologists, and radiology
departmentpersonnel involved with processingfilms and managing theflimfile room.
As part of the University of Washington's evaluation of Picture Archiving and
Communication Systems (PACS)for the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development
Command, a study was performed which evaluated the current operationalpractices of the
film-based radiology department at the University of Washington Medical Center
(UWMC). Industrial engineering time and motion studies were conducted to document the
length of time requiredforfilm processing in various modalities, the proportion of the total
exam time usedforfilm processing, the amount of time radiologists spent searchingfor and
looking at images, and the amount of time file room personnel spent collating reports,
making loans, updatingfilm jacket information, and purging files.
This evaluation showed that better than one-half of the tasks in the file room may be
eliminated with PACS and radiologists may save easily 10 percent of the time they spend
reading films by no longer having to searchforfilms. Radiology technologists may also
save as much as 10 percent of their time with PACS, although this estimate is subject to
significant patient mix aberrations and measurement error. Given that the UWMC
radiology department operates efficiently, similar improvements are forecast for other
radiology departments and larger improvements areforecastfor less efficient departments.