Breast MRI boasts the highest cancer detection rate of all breast imaging modalities.
Previously limited as a screening tool for women at high risk, recent research has shown breast MRI also helps detect breast cancer in women at average risk and who have dense breast tissue.
With referring physicians ordering significantly more breast MRI exams, it has become essential for breast imaging facilities to have dedicated MR screening and diagnostic systems in place. But implementing efficient workflows, purchasing post-processing software, and finding and hiring MQSA certified subspecialized breast imagers can be challenging.
Here, we speak with expert radiologists to learn more about DocPanel’s full-spectrum breast MRI coverage. Find out how you can optimize protocols, improve turnaround times, ensure accuracy, and manage patient volumes with on-demand access to the latest tools and top subspecialty readers.
1. Tailored Imaging Acquisition Protocols
Image quality is very much dependent on the imaging acquisition protocols set by the facility or institution operating the MRI scanner.
“To accurately pick up any abnormal enhancements with breast MRI, protocols for scans with contrast and without contrast must be optimized. Many facilities will copy the same protocols as bigger centers, but this can sometimes create a disconnect with the radiologists,” says Dr. Vivian Lim, Breast Imaging Specialist at UC San Diego Health. “When you work with DocPanel, clear lines of communication are established. The radiologists reading for you speak directly with your technologists to create protocols tailored specifically to how they can get the best read.”
Through DocPanel, referring providers are also able to collaborate with the radiologist, benefiting both the patient and facility. This can help prevent protocol errors that often lead to unnecessary callbacks and, in creating a quicker and more efficient workflow, turnaround times are improved, allowing for more cost-effective use of MRI machines. For facilities that are now operating with fewer in-house radiologists due to the pandemic, this is particularly helpful.
“With the right technique, a good protocol can shorten breast MRI execution time to 20 minutes per scan. This also helps immensely with patient comfort – another important factor impacting image quality,” adds Dr. Lim.
For centers that offer MRI exams outside of breast imaging, this ensures their machines are available for other more lucrative MRI scans and not only breast scans.
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2. Access to TeraRecon Post Processing
All contrast-enhanced breast MRI studies require post-processing; however, access to dedicated breast MRI software programs can be a financial obstacle. With DocPanel, imaging centers get their studies interpreted with TeraRecon advanced visualization tools, without having to purchase a license.
“Having breast MRI images processed with the latest software at no additional charge is a huge cost-saver for small facilities," says Dr. Alyssa Watanabe, Chief Medical Officer of CureMetrix. "The parametric analysis and subtraction color maps are provided through DocPanel which enhances the radiologist in providing an accurate and data-driven interpretation.”
With TeraRecon’s cutting edge tools, breast MRI accuracy is strengthened. This helps reduce the number of false-positive results and unnecessary biopsies.
Next, check out TeraRecon’s podcast featuring DocPanel Founder & Chief Medical Officer, Phil Templeton, and Clinical Specialist, Casey Storck: How DocPanel utilizes TeraRecon’s advanced visualization solutions in their day-to-day workflows
3. Subspecialized Breast Imaging Radiologists
Breast MRI produces complex images that require specific breast imaging expertise to interpret. But for many imaging facilities, the cost of hiring full-time subspecialized readers is not in the budget. This is especially true for smaller centers or those with low breast MRI case volumes. Lack of available subspecialized personnel can also be an issue. Through DocPanel, facilities get on-demand access to a panel of MQSA certified breast imagers. With no case minimums, providers can tailor coverage to their exact needs.
MQSA regulations require a lot out of a providing center or institution. Technologists and radiologists need continuing medical education in breast imaging. They need to make sure their equipment is up to date. And they must be prepared for medical audits. Having a company like DocPanel to provide interpretation coverage frees up a lot of time and resources.
The quality of a radiology report is often linked to the skill of the radiologist. Ensuring advanced studies are read by the best experts keeps referring providers happy and generates new business.
“If the referring provider has a question about a report, they can get in touch with the reading radiologist without delay. And if a patient is missing priors, the process of requesting the information is streamlined. All of these processes improve workflow efficiency and turnaround times,” says Dr. Nancy Forcier, Former Breast Imaging Specialist at Scripps Clinic.
As breast MRI capabilities continue to play an important role in diagnosing and staging breast cancer, the need for subspecialty radiologists is likely to grow. A solution like DocPanel eliminates potential challenges in staffing and can also help with circumstantial shortages, such as vacation coverage.
Technical advances in breast MRI are continuously improving its speed, accuracy, and cost. The creation of abbreviated protocols are enabling more widespread use of breast MRI for screening, and access to on-demand subspeciality readers is allowing more facilities to offer breast MRI for patients. While mammography certainly still plays an important role in breast imaging, advanced breast MRI is also here to stay.
DocPanel is committed to providing imaging centers, radiology groups, hospitals, and physician groups, with on demand specialty coverage at no contract minimums. If you would like to learn more about ways to manage backlog and new volumes, send us a note here and a team member will reach out to you.