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Software Developed by IUPUI Students Closes Gap for Physicians Seeking Radiologists

Published:

April 26, 2012

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Emergency room physicians in several Indianapolis hospitals now can consult much faster with radiology experts using a software application developed by local computer science students.

The Con-Rad application, currently in use at five area hospitals, was developed as a class project by a group of computer science students at the School of Science at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI).

The mobile and desktop application replaces the traditional logbook method for finding available radiologists with an immediate locator system. A software algorithm identifies the right expert based on availability and the type of x-ray analysis needed.

“We formed a team consisting of students majoring in computer science or participating in our applied certificate program, and each had specific skills, including web design, database applications, software management and mobile applications,” said Michele Roberts, a lecturer in the Department of Computer and Information Science. She and her husband Dale Roberts, also a department lecturer, mentored the student group.

“These students designed a delivery system where doctors have access to radiologists immediately while patients may be waiting desperately for a diagnosis,” she added.

Con-Rad essentially works as a data-management system. The software identifies the radiologist on call who is best qualified to examine the images. An injury to a child, for example, may require a specific pediatric radiologist from Riley Hospital for Children.

“These projects give students a rich training experience that includes real-world solutions to important problems. We believe this makes them even more valuable to future employers,” Dale Roberts said.

Dr. William Lea of the Radiology and Imaging Sciences department at the IU School of Medicine  sought help from the computer science department after consulting with doctors and nurses about the issue. He said the application has been received well by his colleagues.

“Our hope is that increased availability to radiologists for referring physicians will improve the physician-to-patient care discussion and timely patient care,” Lea said.

Evelyn Hovee, currently pursuing an applied certificate in computer science, served as the student project manager on the team.

“This was a great working project,” Hovee said. “We were able to see how the software would work in class and see how it works in the real world. It really was fascinating to be involved in the conversations about this important medical process.”

Software developed during the semester-long project has been integrated into the online systems at all the downtown IU Health hospitals. It works seamlessly across all computer platforms and on mobile devices.

Lea said ongoing system evaluation would determine if the software is implemented at additional hospitals.

The School of Science at IUPUI is committed to excellence in teaching, research and service in the biological, physical, behavioral and mathematical sciences. The school is dedicated to being a leading resource for interdisciplinary research and science education in support of Indiana's effort to expand and diversify its economy.