John Rego, MD

Radiology, San Francisco

Digital Imaging and KP Hawk

“I’m an idea guy, but fewer than half ever amount to anything. I have a lot of ideas on the back burner and keep my eyes and ears open. Every once in a while, there’s an opportunity to move one of them forward.”

Dr. Rego has been at the forefront of the creation, storage and transmission of digital images since 1994 when he championed a picture archival and communication system to store and review ultrasound images in San Francisco. Since then, he has led or collaborated on a series of technological and organizational innovations that have resulted in KP Northern California going completely digital for almost all radiologic images. Key to this achievement was the creation of KP Hawk, a night call system for radiologists.

“Since the mid-1980s, each of our 17 facilities had a radiologist on call at home who would review CT studies ordered overnight by ED physicians,” reports Dr. Rego. “But by 2002 the volume of CT exams was so large that each radiologist was being awakened two to three times a night, and sometimes as many as seven times. When you multiplied that by 17 facilities, we had a bunch of tired radiologists.”

To solve that dilemma, Dr. Rego conceived of KP Hawk – currently staffed each night of the year by two TPMG radiologists, who read and report on the 75 to 80 CT scans ordered between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. by physicians at KPNC’s 17 Emergency Departments. KP Hawk, launched in July 2003, was a win/win because its implementation required the installation of Stentor servers at each facility, which then made it possible for all TPMG physicians to view imaging studies on their office or home computers.