Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by Claudette Lew on Health IT Executive Forum and is republished here with permission.
Mecklenburg Radiology Associates (MRA) is a key imaging services provider for Novant Health, a multi-state hospital system which primarily serves the mid-Atlantic region. Based in Charlotte, NC, MRA is a main provider of regional imaging services to healthcare consumers in the greater Charlotte region. Jay W. Patti, MD, a radiologist and Chief Radiology Informatics Officer with MRA since 2008, offers his perspective on forming a successful regional imaging strategy and servicing one of the largest hospital systems in the country. From growing and streamlining operations within the group to successfully collaborating with other radiology groups, MRA provides a great example of regional imaging best practices that can be shared across the industry.
By 2010, healthcare facilities around the world had conducted 5 billion medical imaging studies, with many imaging departments compiling tens of thousands of images each year. Healthcare leaders might feel like miners hard at work to seek nuggets of value amidst all of this medical imaging data. Certain data you inspect can help you find gems that are useful for improving efficiency.
This post will be of particular interest if you are an imaging professional at a US hospital or imaging center that performs CT scans on Medicare or Medicaid patients – even more so if you manage the equipment budget.
Having addressed all the new state regulations and Joint Commission recommendations on CT radiation exposure tracking and minimization, you may think that you are on top of things. But there is another impending item by the name of NEMA-XR-29-2013 that you may need to factor into your plans.
Depending on an institution’s exact situation, NEMA-XR-29-2013 could either be a pebble or a boulder, financially speaking.
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.