Near field communication (NFC) is not a new technology. It's been used in everything from cellphones, to credit cards, to wristwatches. It's the technology that allows you to buy groceries with a tap from your card, exchange social contacts with a wave of your phone, and enter secure locations with a key fob or a name badge. Now, NFC has been integrated into digital radiography (DR) panels to further the workflow improvements already offered by DR.
If your imaging facility is hoping to use a single DR panel across multiple X-ray systems, a panel equipped with NFC not only makes it possible, it does so easily and quickly.
Using DR Panels with Multiple Systems
For most of the DR panels in service right now, sharing between systems is not an option. The few panels that feature "AP mode" are an exception. For panels with AP mode, sharing between systems is fairly quick and easy. The panel can switch from being the wireless client, to being the access point and detect connectivity with compatible workstations within range. This connection requires only a few clicks within the software and a 60-second cycle time. By and large, however, if you want all your systems to scan with a DR panel, they each need to have their own panel.
Using NFC-Enabled DR Panels with Multiple Systems
NFC-enabled DR panels offer all the system-to-system portability of an AP mode panel with just the wave of a tag and a 15-second cycle time. Here's how it works: NFC chips hold small amounts of data and transfer it to a reading device. In this case, the reading device lives in the panel and the data chips live in keycard-shaped tags that stay with each X-ray system. The tags contain all the system settings (IP address, SSID, exposure mode, etc.). Wave the tag over the reader on the panel, wait out the 15-second cycle time, and the panel is connected and synced with whatever system matches the tag.
NFC at Work: Two Examples
Example 1: A mid-range volume clinic with a rad room and a portable X-ray hopes to upgrade both with a DR panel in the next two years. To make the investment more manageable, they share a panel between the two temporarily while they accumulate the funds needed to buy a second one. By upgrading now, they're also able to avoid the reimbursement cuts coming in 2018 for images processed with CR.
Example 2: Multiple panels are purchased and each is assigned to a technologist at a high-volume facility. Each tech takes their panel with them, using NFC to connect to whichever system they may be working on at the moment. This method employs the portability of NFC-enabled panels to increase efficiency, eliminate confusion, and eliminate scheduling conflicts between users.
While NFC capability is not the only way a DR panel can be shared among multiple systems, it is the quickest and easiest way to do so. If increased efficiency is a current goal for your facility, technology that allows you to share as quickly as you can among as many systems as you want can be a powerful tool in that direction.
If you'd like to see an NFC-enabled panel in action, use the button below to request a demo at your site.