Separating Fact from Fiction in Enterprise Imaging

2013-05-30
 

Enterprise Imaging in Hospital
 

Achieving the picture of better health means focusing on the technology and services that can help make a healthcare organization run more efficiently than ever. Technology is integrating organizational complexities, connecting care teams and streamlining workflow. Enterprise imaging solutions give medical professionals the confidence to make those decisions that deliver better care.

No Clear Picture

But just what is enterprise imaging? There doesn’t seem to be a consensus on a true description. As one definition, enterprise imaging is a solution that archives and manages image data on behalf of the systems with which it interfaces.

According to who you talk to, this solution may fall into any of the following categories:

  • A zero-footprint model so that the system can be accessed from any web-connected device, at any location.
  • An Electronic Health Record (EHR), since Meaningful Use requires any imaging system to interact with patients’ records throughout the health system enterprise
  • A fusion of all the current imaging technologies into one seamless system
  • A Vendor Neutral Archive or PACS Neutral Archive that stores data in a non-proprietary format freeing patient data from individual silos

In attempting to bring clarity to the subject, David S. Mendelson, director of radiology information systems at Mount Sinai Medical Center says, “This is both an exciting time and a little bit of a confusing time for enterprises. Vendors have recognized that there is a need for and an emerging marketplace for ‘vendor-neutral’ archives that will handle not just radiology DICOM images, but all kinds of documents and images from multiple disciplines, everything from photos and light photography to pathology slides and ophthalmology images.”

Supporting PACS from multiple vendors is a real challenge for organizations today. From the clinicians’ viewpoint, having to access each system independently to see the complete patient imaging history is inefficient. From the administrative viewpoint, managing a separate PACS at every facility is not an effective use of resources. Building and maintaining disaster recovery into many individual systems can become difficult and expensive. In addition, image-enabling an EHR requires multiple costly integration points because the images are scattered across many isolated systems.

Cohesion is King

To Dr. Rasu Shrestha, Vice President of Medical Information Technology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, the reality of true enterprise imaging is that cohesion is king. “It’s sometimes baffling to see that, as the industry tries to chomp away at the challenges of enterprise imaging in bits, what we truly need is an interoperable way to tackle the problems, to truly get us past the finish line.”

He adds, “The key to unlocking the potential of enterprise imaging is to define and build a more cohesive and interoperable approach to the needs of the enterprise at large while ensuring that they complement and aid in the demands of individual departmental workflows.”

Real cohesion would be a repository that simplifies enterprise-wide access to image information with a single point of distribution for image data, while supporting image data sharing between disparate healthcare systems.

What fits into your definition of enterprise imaging?  I encourage you to share your thoughts, via a comment below.

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