Optimization of MRI Turnaround Times Through the Use of Dockable Tables and Innovative Architectural Design Strategies

Leesburg, VA, May 13, 2019One topic that has the potential to drastically improve the value of MRI (but has not been researched as thoroughly as hardware application and software innovation) is the optimization of MRI workflow.

According to an Original Research article in the American Journal of Roentgenology, the construction of a new outpatient imaging center at NYU Langone Health to house 1.5- and 3-T scanners provided Michael Recht and colleagues an opportunity to reengineer their MRI turnaround time (i.e., “the interval between completion of the last sequence acquisition for one patient and initiation of the first sequence acquisition for the next patient”).

A process improvement team comprised of different stakeholders—radiologists, MRI technologists, IT administrators, front desk personnel, real estate and development staff—met biweekly for several months to define the current workflow and its limitations and to determine optimizations, such as the use of dockable tables, dedicated patient preparation rooms, two doors in each MRI room, positioning the scanner to provide the most direct path to the scanner, and coil storage in the preparation rooms with duplication of the most frequently used coils.

Once construction and a two-month training period were completed, mean and median turnaround times were measured for each scanner at NYU Langone’s new facility, as well as for six scanners with differing magnets at two existing outpatient centers from March 1, 2018 to June 30, 2018.

When patients were properly prepared and on their docking tables, the authors found the difference in mean turnaround time was 328 seconds, “which is greater than the goal of five minutes of time saved,” Recht wrote.

For all patients, including those who were not ready when the prior patient's examination was finished, the improvement in mean turnaround time was 265 seconds.

Interestingly, the difference in median turnaround times for all patients clocked in at 340 seconds.

“Five minutes might not seem like much time,” Aunt Minnie added, “but taking 300 fewer seconds to turn around an MRI suite to accommodate the next case can improve workflow, better serve patients, and add to a facility's coffers.”

Founded in 1900, the American Roentgen Ray Society (ARRS) is the first and oldest radiology society in the North America, dedicated to the advancement of medicine through the profession of radiology and its allied sciences. An international forum for progress since the discovery of the x-ray, ARRS maintains its mission of improving health through a community committed to advancing knowledge and skills with an annual scientific meeting, monthly publication of the peer-reviewed American Journal of Roentgenology (AJR), quarterly issues of InPractice magazine, topical symposia and AJR Live Webinars, print and online educational materials, as well as awarding scholarships via The Roentgen Fund®.