Everything is going online nowadays, and the medical field is no exception. Ever-improving technology has revolutionized the healthcare industry. Pagers are being replaced by wireless communication devices, self-service kiosks are expediting patient check-in, and portal technology has empowered patients to take control of their care. Yet, even with such overwhelming evidence for utilizing new technologies, some hospitals still use outdated X-ray machines. The transition to digital X-ray machines isn't merely beneficial, it's necessary.
Digital is Cost-Effective
Digital X-rays cut out the need for film; they instead store images as files to be viewed on a computer monitor. As vareximaging.com explains, Computed radiography uses reusable phosphor plates in place of a film screen. Direct radiography uses a sensor that converts X-ray radiation to digital signals, omitting the need for plates altogether. Both computed radiography and direct radiography thus cut the cost of film and developing chemicals.
Also worth considering: as of 2017, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reduced their reimbursements of film x-ray equipment by 20%. The following year, CMS reduced their reimbursements for computed radiography by 7%, to push towards direct radiography. It's entirely possible that the CMS will continue to make cuts in the coming years if healthcare institutions resist switching to direct radiography.
Digital is Safe
Doing away with the film also helps produce images more safely. MedXWaste.com states that the chemicals used to develop film x-rays and the film itself are considered toxic waste. Hydroquinone is particularly problematic. It can cause issues such as skin irritation, nausea, and even vision loss. By removing the film, digital X-rays remove a slew of hazards. Digital X-rays can also use less radiation than traditional machines. Phosphor plates and direct radiography sensors are more sensitive to X-rays than film, so fewer rays are needed to get the same picture quality. This reduces the risk of radiation poisoning for radiographers and can help put a wary patient's mind at ease.
Digital is Easy
Having X-rays as a file, rather than a physical paper, opens up a world of possibilities. Gone are the days of rifling through a patient's file to find a specific image, losing films, and shuffling prints to and from departments. With digital radiography, you have an image wherever you have a computer screen. Digital X-ray images can also be altered to enhance quality. Just like editing an everyday photo, practitioners can use software to correct for under- and overexposure, zoom in, and change the contrast.
Digital is Flexible
Changing from film to digital x-ray doesn't have to be an abrupt change. Medical institutions can give staff a chance to adjust to the new machines by replacing their machines gradually. Digital machines and film machines work much the same way, and many X-ray machine manufacturers can update old machines by replacing parts, keeping the familiar machine mostly intact. Even software can be integrated into an institution's existing network.
To learn some more about X-ray machines, feel free to contact companies such as VXS Imaging for more information.