Medical students go through various clinical rotations, soaking in information from attending physicians and trying to figure out what specialty will best fit their talents and life goals. Those who enjoy the challenge of diagnostics via MRIs, CT scans, and tomosynthesis might decide that radiology is the right fit.
Radiologists-to-be are lucky in that they have a number of world-class radiology residency programs to which they can apply. Around the country there are more than 100 programs benefiting from innovative leaders and cutting edge technology, such as enterprise medical imaging systems, as they teach radiologists of the future.
It’s been quite a journey, but EHRs have turned the corner in terms of proving their usefulness. Studies are showing that EHRs save patient lives and promote efficiency within healthcare organizations. If that’s the case, we should probably be asking ourselves what’s next. In other words, how can EHRs be enhanced to be even more useful? And just as importantly, how can hospitals get more value from their EHR investment?
One answer to those questions is imaging services; specifically, better connections between imaging and clinical EHR systems that greatly benefit providers, patients, and healthcare organizations.
The last few months have seen substantial drama related to the potential introduction of coverage for CT-based lung cancer screening for high-risk Medicare patients. This blog post is a quick review of the history and current state of the debate.
It should be noted that “high-risk patients” in this instance means “asymptomatic adults aged 55 to 80 years who have a 30 pack per year smoking history and currently smoke or have quit smoking within the past 15 years.” This is a small percentage of the approximately 50 million Medicare beneficiaries. But it is a group that has, for obvious reasons, a high mortality rate with respect to lung cancer.
What is Image Results Anyway?
“Image Results” is the name of a Meaningful Use 2 menu objective. So you could conceivably just opt out of doing it if you already have six of the other menu objectives well covered. But since most hospitals will find it to be a quick win and it is so valuable to quality patient care, it would be a shame not to address it. Also, it is probably going to be core in MU3, so why put it off?
It’s amazing how quickly we’ve all gotten used to having not just our phone, but all the information on the Internet, in our pocket. In fact, limited access to an information system tends to aggravate us — like not being able to read medical images from home or when we travel. Of course, massive data requirements and privacy issues make image access a great deal more complex than serving up a social media account or even a basic patient record.
[Note: Read part 1 of this series here]
A Crash Course on Diagnostic Imaging Departments for the MU Team
If you already work in the radiology or cardiology department, you can skip this section and advance to the next one.
If you are a member of the Meaningful Use implementation team at your hospital, you are likely trying to figure out a lot of unfamiliar jargon coming from those nice folks in your imaging departments. Here is what you need to know to communicate with them on this topic.
This article will interest you if you live in the United States and are:
- A radiology or cardiology professional who has been asked a bunch of questions filled with unfamiliar acronyms and words like “Image Results,” “170.314(a)(12),” and “MU2” by your hospital’s Meaningful Use team, or you are
- On your hospital’s Meaningful Use team who just received blank stares when you asked your radiology department team to assist you with adding the “Image Results” to the objectives you can achieve.
An exciting event took place recently at the Microsoft Testing Labs in Washington State — McKesson Radiology™ v12.0 was tested with a 5 million exam load. It ran for 240 hours with no degradation in performance, no memory leaks, no runaway CPU usage and no bottlenecks.
The experiment was designed to examine how next-generation imaging solutions might emerge to take healthcare to the next level. Some are calling these systems PACS 3.0, and they aim to take radiology beyond the enterprise level. The scalability test is detailed in a new white paper, “Scalability Testing of the PACS for the Future: McKesson Radiology at Microsoft Labs.”
When the new ICD-10 system is implemented on October 1, 2015, which is the most recent date set for its onset, many changes will accompany the transition, including a dramatic increase in the number of codes. The increase will be helpful to practitioners, including those in radiology, because it allows them to improve the specificity they use when documenting why a patient was seen and what care was given.
Enterprise Imaging: Is it Possible to Achieve Data Liquidity While Balancing Cost, Access and Quality? Or, What Does this Napkin Drawing Mean to Your Radiology Practice?
Recently, McKesson sponsored a webinar featuring Applied Radiology Editorial Advisory Board member, Dr. Rasu B Shrestha, MD, MBA. The discussion focused on finding the right balance between the increasing pressures of efficiency, quality of patient care and healthcare data management; and how these are the challenges that enterprise medical imaging now faces. With a renewed focus on a holistic, patient-centric approach to care in medical imaging, the true “value” generated by imaging should then rightfully equate to the summation of superior outcomes, patient-centered care, and efficiency at lower costs.