Sponsored by Banner Health
By Lisa Lee, Lead Mammography Technologist
The journey to becoming a Breast Center of Excellence can be stressful, but it can also be inspiring and rewarding. It all starts with the American College of Radiology (ACR) – a governing board that works with the FDA to ensure that radiologists, technologists and all breast imaging equipment meet the operation requirements.
As far as the journey is concerned, let’s get in the driver’s seat and get started.
To be considered a Breast Center of Excellence, you must have the following modalities accredited by the ACR; mammography, breast ultrasound with a core biopsy, stereotactic core biopsy and a breast MRI.
The process starts with an online application asking you to include all your site’s modality information, personnel credentials, productivity statistics, physicist reports and more. It’s a comprehensive application, so be sure to take the time to fill it out as completely as possible (focus and patience are key!) Once the application is approved and your fees have been received, a notification will be sent to you to begin collecting your images. You will be given 45 days to find your breast center’s best images for submission, and the ACR provides image guidelines for you to follow. Images must be a Bi-Rad 1, and they require examples of both fatty and dense breasts. These requirements can be stressful; not all patients are the same shape and size, and meeting the guidelines can be challenging, but it’s certainly not insurmountable. You can do this! Keep driving.
If you’re looking to go through this journey, begin to gather what you need now. Get your roadmap out. Here at Banner Imaging, we have a technologist in each modality who keeps track of all the cases that meet the guidelines. As the due date for image submission approaches, I look through the mammograms and pick two to three of the best cases. I then meet with our lead interpreting physician, and together we will determine the best case to submit.
Once we have selected our best images, I access the material package link. There are many questions about our infectious control program, how we notify patients and referring physicians of results and pathology outcome audit. There’s also detailed and required information required on the specific unit being accredited and information about the radiologist’s reading stations. Personnel documents are needed with qualifying dates, productivity statistics and continuing education totals for all radiologists, technologists and physicists. Images are then uploaded on a secure system within the material link.
Once this is all completed, the link is then submitted for evaluation. For me, the second stressful part is sitting in traffic, so to speak, waiting to hear the results. This can take anywhere from two to four months. The ACR will send a link to the final report, and with fingers crossed, we hope to read, “You have been granted accreditation.” Each breast imaging unit goes through this process every three years.
Once accreditation has been granted in the four modalities listed at the beginning of this column, your center is a Breast Center of Excellence. You will then receive a certificate that you can proudly display. It is very rewarding to know that our center performs with the highest quality of images, personnel and equipment. Across Banner Imaging, I oversee 16 mammography centers, four of them are a Breast Center of Excellence.
Our newest breast center will become a Breast Center of Excellence in the first quarter of 2022, giving us a total of five. The keys to a successful QA program, I believe, is a good organization and a team of technologists and radiologists that all share a passion for providing the best quality of care.
Now, hit the accelerator and head toward excellence!
Lisa R Lee, ARRT (R) (M), is the mammography lead at Banner Imaging.