Evaluation of MRI acquisition workflow with lean six sigma method: case study of liver and knee examinations.
OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this investigation was to assess workflow for medical imaging studies, specifically comparing liver and knee MRI examinations by use of the Lean Six Sigma methodologic framework. The hypothesis tested was that the Lean Six Sigma framework can be used to quantify MRI workflow and to identify sources of inefficiency to target for sequence and protocol improvement. SUBJECTS AND METHODS: Audio-video interleave streams representing individual acquisitions were obtained with graphic user interface screen capture software in the examinations of 10 outpatients undergoing MRI of the liver and 10 outpatients undergoing MRI of the knee. With Lean Six Sigma methods, the audio-video streams were dissected into value-added time (true image data acquisition periods), business value-added time (time spent that provides no direct patient benefit but is requisite in the current system), and non-value-added time (scanner inactivity while awaiting manual input). RESULTS: For overall MRI table time, value-added time was 43.5% (range, 39.7-48.3%) of the time for liver examinations and 89.9% (range, 87.4-93.6%) for knee examinations. Business value-added time was 16.3% of the table time for the liver and 4.3% of the table time for the knee examinations. Non-value-added time was 40.2% of the overall table time for the liver and 5.8% for the knee examinations. CONCLUSION: Liver MRI examinations consume statistically significantly more non-value-added and business value-added times than do knee examinations, primarily because of respiratory command management and contrast administration. Workflow analyses and accepted inefficiency reduction frameworks can be applied with use of a graphic user interface screen capture program.
Roth, CJ; Boll, DT; Wall, LK; Merkle, EM
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