MERCY MEDICAL CENTER

To continue to push the bar for patient care, Mercy installed 94 of NEC's 21" MultiSync MD213MC diagnostic displays in workstations and carts. Staff is able to manage and maintain all the units at Mercy and sister sites from one location with NEC's exclusive GammaCompMD QA software.
 
 
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Quick Facts
  • Facility: Mercy Medical Center
  • Vertical: Healthcare
  • Location: Oshkosh, WI
  • Challenges: Aid medical staff in making timely and accurate diagnoses for patients while limiting required upkeep of the solution
  • Solution: NEC 21” MultiSync® MD213MC with GammaComp™ MD QA software
  • Result: Overall performance increase across the biomedical, radiology and information technology departments
  • Date: July 2011

Located in the community of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, in the Fox River Valley along the western shore of Lake Winnebago, Mercy Medical Center provides a wide array of health care options to the roughly 70,000 immediate residents and the 160,000-plus citizens in the greater metropolitan area. These options include emergency/trauma care and surgical services as well as many medical specialties such as cardiology, oncology, orthopedics, intensive care, obstetrics and neurosurgery. Mercy is the home of the Kennedy Center for the Hip and Knee, a nationally recognized program for hip replacement. The facility boasts 157 patient beds and more than 300 medical staff.

Patient care is paramount for Mercy and the board regularly looks to stay on the cutting edge. But investing in enhancements to its health care offerings isn’t limited to new facilities, highly trained staff members or medical equipment, as a patient would know it.

The Challenge

To continue to push the bar for patient care, the staff at Mercy recognized that they are only as good as the tools at their disposal. Even the most highly trained expert will only be able to spot more critical details in X-ray and MRI results if the medical displays showing these images offer higher quality resolution and brightness. The staff knows that the better tools they have, the better they can serve their patients.

"So when the staff sought to upgrade their diagnostic displays, they knew they needed to find a solution that would give them the best chance for success. Specifically, they wanted to update the reading stations in the radiology department, said Kyle Schaefer, biomedical equipment technician, Mercy Medical Center. “There are three key stations in the central reading core for filing and radiology. The majority of imaging comparisons and analysis take place there. We wanted to be sure we were making the best equipment available to our team.” "

The existing units installed at the reading stations had once been state-of-the-art, but now were outdated given the rate at which technology continually improves. The displays were able to perform satisfactorily, but could not keep up with Mercy’s goal of staying on the cutting edge.

A similar plan was put in place for the breast diagnostic center, intensive care unit (ICU) and emergency department. In each instance, having a dedicated work station with top-quality displays would allow staff to quickly and easily diagnose patients more accurately, and without having to leave their immediate department. Again, older model displays were in place and working adequately, but staff believed an upgrade in the displays could help them catch difficult-to-see issues that might otherwise have been missed.

Moreover, Schaefer said that having a unifying server to control Mercy and its sister sites, Calumet Medical Center and St. Elizabeth Hospital, was a much needed step in streamlining the day-to-day operations of all three facilities. If an issue occurred with a unit at one of the sister sites, Schaefer or someone on his team would have to drive nearly an hour to assess the situation. Even something that could be easily fixed by someone else once diagnosed still required the trip. “Those hours behind the wheel resulted in a lot of lost manpower,” said Schaefer. “Having remote access software would eliminate or minimize those trips.”

The Solution

After looking at several brands in a blind, side-by-side test, the decision was made to install 39 NEC MD213MC displays. The staff favored them for their brightness and resolution, which makes minute details that were difficult to spot before clearer, and for the minimal maintenance they require.

The 21”, 3-megapixel, high-bright, high-resolution color display features the flexibility of a color display with image performance rivaling that of grayscale displays, giving Mercy’s staff the best of both worlds. This meant that X-rays, MRI, PET/CT and other color image scans could be viewed on the same monitors, saving space at already crowded workstations since neither now required special monitors.

The three existing stations in the radiology department were upgraded and outfitted with what is known as a four-head display. This meant that four MD213MC displays were setup side by side in a straight line. Using this style of setup, Mercy’s staff could easily juxtapose multiple images to note any changes that may have occurred in patients since their previous visit. The thinner bezel of the MD213MC allows those images to be compared with a minimal break between them. The displays sit easily next to one other minimizing the amount of space required, which is often a premium in any organization.

The same configuration has now been incorporated for the two-head displays set up in the breast diagnostic center, ICU and emergency departments. Having review stations in those areas, rather than having to go the radiology department to review the results, meant the staff could obtain critical information mere steps from where the X-rays and images were taken. Again, the flexibility of the MD213MC’s color display meant that a single station could host multiple types of images, as opposed to having additional setups that would have to be in different locations.

Beyond these specific stations, even more workstations similar to those found in the radiology department are scattered throughout Mercy and are available for other units as needed. Also, after an initial installation and test period at Mercy, both Calumet Medical Center and St. Elizabeth Hospital installed 11 and 44 MD213MCs respectively.

It’s also worth noting that the existing units that the NEC MD213MC replaced were a previous generation of NEC medical display, the MD21GS. The key differences between the older unit and the new one are mostly rooted in general technological advances which helped the new unit literally outshine the old. Specifically, the resolution and brightness were an order of magnitude above the previous unit and the built-in front sensor ensured a stable calibration over time. Better power saving features were another improvement, along with the MD213MC meeting the relatively new FDA 501(k) requirement.

While the performance of the displays is what excited the medical staff, Schaefer liked the ability to manage them all through GammaCompMD QA software and its server configuration feature. “The software allows me (as well as other technicians) to manage and maintain the units at Mercy and our sister sites from one location. The elimination of travel time has made us much more efficient and responsive.”

Schaefer also touts the ability to execute commands, pull up quality assurance test data, and run quality assurance tests remotely. He says although he and his team perform preventative maintenance on all the units annually, it’s entirely possible that just one month after a checkup there could be an issue. “Without the software, it’s possible we may not know that a unit is improperly calibrated for another 11 months. And that can be a big liability for the hospital as employees make treatment determinations from the images on the monitors. But with it, we can be alerted immediately and correct the problem.”

In the end, 94 LCDs were installed across the entire organization. Schaefer says that along with an overall performance increase, the combination of thinner bezels and an integrated sensor for monitoring performance made NEC the obvious choice, with features that satisfied the biomedical, radiology and information technology departments.

 

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