8:00 AM–4:00 PM
*Open five days per week yields approximately 250 days per year of operation (excludes weekends and holidays).
capturing capital dollars, but also the “soft”
side of the investment. Women’s breast
health is a national focus; involving one’s
organization in this area shows dedication
to preserving the well being of those in the
Technologies and Protocols
The first step taken once the commitment
was made to build the breast center was to
migrate from analog mammography units
to digital mammography. At this point,
changing from analog to digital mammography was a natural progression. The technology was there, the patient awareness
was there, and the commitment was made
to referring physicians that SHWBC was in
the breast imaging business.
Of all certified mammography facili-
ties, 66.5% have digital mammography
units and 67.6% of all accredited mam-
mography units are digital. 8 Combining
these figures yields a ratio of 1. 46 digital
mammography units to every one certified
center. Digital mammography units are
not required to operate a viable breast cen-
ter; however, having the most current tech-
nology is something that patients look for.
Because digital equipment is much more
expensive than analog, it may be a chal-
lenge to convince administration to
approve the purchase of digital equipment.
Work closely with the finance department
to develop a solid business plan, which
should focus on proving it makes more
sense to invest in the equipment rather
than other types of portfolios. A strong
plan should show a return on investment
within three years.
Table 1 represents the actual capacity
model used for the analog to digital proposal. The model depicts hours of operation at five days per week between the
hours of 8:00 AM–4:00 PM.
The model reflects 15 minute time slots
for screening exams and 30 minute slots
for diagnostic exams. The exam time slots
reflect the total time for patient care in the
room—eg, taking patient history, answering questions, taking images. Some facilities may have the flexibility of interviewing
patients outside the mammography room
which allows the room to be used for
imaging only. If this is the case, using two
technologists to staff the room would allow
patients to be shifted quickly in and out of
the room, thereby decreasing the length of
the exams and increasing patient volume.
The model also reflects a 60% volume
capacity. Building a model that reflects an
80% capacity is more advisable, as the
room is then theoretically unused for only
20% of the day. It is important to leave
room for “add-on” patients as well as space
to accommodate emergent situations.
Site visits are an excellent way to see
equipment being used in a live unsolicited environment. A wide variety of
staff should be invited, including a radiologist, technologists, and a PACS administrator (if exploring digital equipment), IT
personnel, and anyone else that may be
relevant. Talk to the staff using the equipment to get their opinions about ease of
use, image quality, service issues, and vendor support.
If available, ask vendor representatives
to provide an on site demo. Integrating
new equipment with existing systems will
provide a true test of its functionality. Also
ask about lead time for availability, delivery, installation, and training.
Typically, being a digital department means
no film, except for digital mammography. Mammography requires prior studies
(when applicable) for comparison, therefore, it is important to make sure there is
adequate space for mammography film
storage. Unfortunately, this was one of the
challenges SHWBC faced in the beginning.
The floor plan did not accommodate the
storage of film, therefore patient files were
initially stored off-site which required a
courier system to transport patient files
back and forth for patient visits. This
was an immediate problem, specifically