Objectives: Nuclear medicine has changed rapidly as a result of technological developments. Very little is reported on the effects these developments may have on technologist productivity. This study aims to determine whether advances have created a workplace where more patient studies can be performed with fewer technologists. The level of change in automation or time taken to perform a routine task by the nuclear medicine technologist as a result of technological development over the past decade is reported.
Methods: A systematic review was conducted using Embase.com, Medline, INSPEC, and Cinahl. Two authors reviewed each article for eligibility. Technological developments in routine areas over the past decade were reviewed. The resultant automation or time effects on data acquisition, data processing, and image processing were summarized.
Results: Sixteen articles were included in the areas of myocardial perfusion, information technology, and positron emission tomography (PET). Gamma camera design has halved the acquisition time for myocardial perfusion studies, automated analysis requires little manual intervention and information technologies and filmless departments are more efficient. Developments in PET have reduced acquisition to almost one-fifth of the time.
Conclusions: Substantial efficiencies have occurred over the decade thereby increasing productivity, but whether staffing levels are appropriate for safe, high quality practice is unclear. Future staffing adequacy is of concern given the anticipated increasing service needs.