Clinical Scientist at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Dose Management Software provides robust, timely data enabling collaboration between clinical and technical teams to give a better service and comply with tighter regulations.
When dose management software (DMS) first came on the market, some professionals dismissed it as an expensive luxury. In practice, it has proved its worth as a tool for bringing clinicians, technicians and medical physicists together to deliver the best outcomes for patients and facilitate learning and best practice for operators. And, of course, DMS is an essential tool for compliance with an ever-tighter regulatory environment.
While the primary function of DMS is to collect data automatically to prevent errors from user-entered data, such as incorrect units, its true value is the way it presents robust data for analysis, says Michael Barnard, Clinical Scientist at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. “Once the data collection and data presentation work is automated you can quickly find what exactly what you need to change, such as optimising the exposure to balance the radiation dose and image quality,” he explains.
Software that supports collaborative working
The data generated by DMS is in a standard format that can be used by all the people involved, Barnard says. “The DMS ensures you have one source of data that can be shared with the radiologists so we can work in a more collaborative manner; all on the same page with the same information.”
Data is also available immediately, so it can have a direct impact on clinical practice. “With computer tomography (CT scans), we have auto exposure control, which means patients have to be centred as accurately as possible for it to work effectively,” he says. “The DMS allows us to drill deeper into the data to get this sort of information.”
Technical inconsistencies easier to spot
DMS data can even be used as a problem-solving tool for the equipment. “What we have noticed is, because of the speed at which the data is available, we can spot technical problems more easily,” says Barnard. “Using the DMS, we noticed a CT scanner wasn’t performing as it should when comparing a single protocol on our CT scanners in our Trust. Using data displayed in the DMS, we could see immediately that something was not quite right. We got together with a radiologist, radiographer and the manufacturer to solve the problem, which had been caused by a very obscure software update and inadvertent change to an embedded setting.”
The adoption of DMS may also enable automated image analysis in the future. “All the information is there, but it needs an image quality metric, which is very difficult,” Mr Barnard says. “DMS is being used in a lot of medical research.”