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Eur J Echocardiogr. 2009 Jun;10(4):537-42. doi: 10.1093/ejechocard/jen341. Epub 2009 Feb 27.

Improved workflow, sonographer productivity, and cost-effectiveness of echocardiographic service for inpatients by using miniaturized systems.

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Department of Cardiopulmonary Sciences, Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria S Maria della Misericordia, P.le S Maria della Misericordia, 15, 33100 Udine, Italy.



The aim of this study was to assess the cost-effectiveness of using certified sonographers and miniaturized echocardiography systems to perform echocardiograms at bedside in comparison to moving inpatients from the admission department to the echocardiography laboratory (echo-lab).


From 26 September 2005 to 27 October 2005, 112 patients admitted in six hospital wards connected through a 100 Mbit LAN to the echo-lab were scanned within the admission ward by sonographers using a miniaturized echo system. Logistical data were collected and results were compared with those obtained from 194 consecutive patients coming from the same wards and studied in the echo-lab with high-end machines between 8 March 2005 and 15 April 2005. Performing echocardiograms in the admission department avoided long waiting time of the inpatients in the echo-lab before and after the study, increased the percentage of patients studied within 3 and 5 days from request (88 vs. 77% and 100 vs. 95%, respectively; P = 0.03), increased both sonographer (by 33.9%; P < 0.001) and echo-lab productivity (by 41%; P < 0.001), and reduced costs of echocardiograms by 29%.


Implementation of digital echocardiography, certified sonographers, and a miniaturized echo system allowed improvement of the cost-effectiveness of the service provided by the echo-lab for inpatients, and avoided patients' discomfort derived from prolonged waiting time before and after the exam.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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