Victory Breast Diagnostics and Women's Imaging, Houston, Texas: Compassion and Technology Equals Victory

For radiologist Dr. Susan Gaskill, victory is the only option

Frustrated by the time it took for hospitals in the the Bay Area of Houston to acquire technology she felt provided the best possible breast care, Dr. Susan Gaskill mustered her courage, tenacity and vision to open her own breast imaging center in October, 2006.

Leaving what she describes as "a nice, comfortable practice" near Houston, she commuted to Dallas by plane for close to a year to gain experience with the latest in breast health technologies, including digital mammography. She brought that knowledge and technology back to her community with the opening of Victory .

The Right Technology: a Key to Victory's Success

From the onset, Dr. Gaskill was clear about the type of technology needed to make Victory a success. "After comparing digital to film-screen, she found direct capture digital technology produced superior images. "I felt very strongly from the onset that I wanted direct capture technology," Dr. Gaskill said. "The images were just clearer. I could tell that almost from a distance, looking at a monitor of the two technologies. That was actually the easy part."

After comparing digital to film-screen, Dr. Gaskill found direct capture digital mammography technology produced superior images. "I felt very strongly from the onset that I wanted direct capture technology. The images were just clearer. I could tell that from a distance, looking at a monitor of the two technologies. That was actually the easy part," she said.

Creating a comfortable, patient-centric space that optimized workflow and was a pleasant place to work, was a primary objective in designing Victory. From the clerical staff to the technologists, everyone's input was sought in creating an efficient floor plan that served everyone well. "I got the input of the key people delivering their service," she says. "We all put our heads together and we each designed our own areas. The main focus of a breast-imaging center is the team approach. Everybody's job is as important as the next person's. And communication within the team is extremely important."

Choosing a supplier with a shared focus was also of critical importance. "Hologic is dedicated to breast imaging. When dealing with the other vendors, I've felt that breast imaging was just not as important as the MRI business, the CT business, or the nuclear medicine business. With Hologic I never felt like a red-headed stepchild," she asserted.

Hologic and Victory: Partners in Success

Victory relies on Hologic technology for several major systems in their breast-imaging suite. In addition to a Selenia digital mammography system and a SecurViewDX diagnostic workstation with R2 CAD, the site has a MultiCare Platinum stereotactic breast biopsy table, Discovery bone density table, the Suros ATEC breast biopsy device and a Suros Sapphire system for MRI guidance breast biopsy.

Dr. Gaskill insists that patients get the very best care when they have access to the most diagnostic tools in one place. "It's very important that all the modalities are in the breast center with the breast imager. One of my concerns is if the breast MRI is read by a general radiologist in another facility without a state-of-the art mammogram to correlate with. It's really important that it's all integrated and done right there together in the breast center. It's critical that the breast imager understand the limitations of all three modalities."

In addition to streamlining workflow, digital mammography has been particularly effective when screening patients with dense breast tissue. "I don't take as many images as I used to because I can see through the dense tissue more clearly. I can see calcifications that are buried in dense tissue much better, and I don't have to take as many magnification views," she noted, adding, "The patients are getting less x-ray exposure and they're getting out faster. So, patients are happier. I don't call patients back for additional views as often, so I know for sure my recall rate is lower with digital imaging. Therefore I'm doing fewer benign biopsies, so I'm really happy about that."

The instant access to images that digital archiving provides is especially convenient. "I love the fact that if a patient wants to check out their films, we can print them hard copies and they can take them with them. I don't want them to bring them back because we are filmless, and if films are lost or destroyed, it's okay because we have it stored, locally and off-site" she said.

Dr. Gaskill's commitment to care and quality of life is equaled by her boundless enthusiasm. "I really am excited about the fact that I have a breast center where the team really works together and we're all focused on the patient," she said. "And if we take care of the patients, then we take care of the community. In our waiting room we have a 'gallery of courage' with portraits of our cancer patients, not just to honor them, but also to inspire women with hope. I'm really excited about that."

Victory's motto is "Comprehensive Care with Compassion," and Dr. Gaskill and Victory's Chief Operating Officer, Cheryl Parish, RT (R) (M) share that common vision. "The main mission of our breast center is to bring personalized, comprehensive care to our patients," Dr. Gaskill said. "We want to treat everybody as a person first, and a patient second. I want everyone who comes through our door to be treated as I would want to be treated. And our mission is to work as a team, with the patient at the center."

Victory Breast Diagnostics and Women's Imaging is now successfully bringing big-city excellence and state-of-the-art technology to the women of the Bay Area. "I like the name Victory because it implies winning," Dr. Gaskill said. "That's the only option in the fight against breast cancer."