Vendor Neutral Archives
Healthcare organizations, despite size or complexity, can face many challenges when dealing with vendor neutral archive and cross-enterprise document sharing systems. To succeed, your healthcare organization must achieve the flexibility to manage and share multidisciplinary images and related clinical documents and artifacts.
In these medical imaging articles, industry guest authors and thought leaders from McKesson offer their expertise on opportunities for improving medical image archiving. Topics range from enhancing patient care and handling patient complaints in the ED to eliminating medical data silos and consolidating medical imaging.
Read the insights and opportunities on vendor neutral archive systems below to begin reaching beyond departmental walls by focusing on architectural flexibility, scalability and interoperability.
In an era when we can view our bank account balance on our phone, ask a digital assistant to find the nearest Thai restaurant, and plug a device into our car to help us save money on insurance, it seems unlikely that patients will continue to accept excuses for providers not having access to their full medical record.
Of course, providers are just as frustrated by their efforts to gain access to health information stored across multiple facilities — or even multiple departments in the same facility.
Editor’s Note: This article by Beth W. Orenstein appears in the July issue of Radiology Today and is reprinted here with permission.
As image and other data needs become more complex, virtualized solutions increasingly protect against real disasters, but many facilities and vendors are not there yet.
Traditionally, data backup and disaster recovery were part of an imaging department’s PACS. As a result, business continuity and disaster recovery tended to be compatible exclusively with that PACS. Fast-forward to 2015 and the need to share and access data across departments has grown exponentially. “When thinking about health care information access needs, there are no ‘four walls’ anymore,” says Tomer Levy, general manager of the workflow and infrastructure in the Imaging and Workflow Solutions business unit of McKesson.
Ever been working down your inbox and you lose your Wi-Fi connection? Sure, you can still draft emails, but you may lose the ability to send and receive new emails. This is similar to a PACS environment that is not taking advantage of the capabilities in neutral solutions. If the PACS is your laptop, the neutral environment is your laptop with a Wi-Fi connection.
As healthcare leaders consider investing in technology that supports improvements to patient care, it’s important to know how a vendor neutral solution can enhance your PACS and diagnostic imaging department. There are crucial elements to consider; what are the benefits a of a vendor neutral environment and why a traditional PACS isn’t good enough in today’s changing healthcare arena.
A survey of physicians found that over the next 10 years, they expect half of their compensation to become based on value rather than fee-for-service. Despite industry movements toward value-based reimbursement, 37 percent of healthcare CEOs say they are still in the “investigative” stage of transitioning to value-based care. This gap between reimbursement based on value and organizations’ readiness is a significant challenge to healthcare executives.
As healthcare leaders determine how to best move toward value-based care models, they must determine what tools to invest in to ease the transition. There are healthcare IT solutions that can help solve value-based care challenges in three crucial ways: by including a consultative approach, aligning with interoperability and incorporating workflow.
Since the first PACS was developed in the early 1980s, medical imaging systems have continued to improve. Monitors have higher resolutions for viewing clarity. Images have 3D capabilities. Faster network speeds allow for more efficient image access.
In the 30-plus years since the construction of PACS, healthcare is now seeing its demise — or evolution. In this Q&A, industry consultant and speaker Don Dennison discusses the drive behind PACS’ evolution, what healthcare leaders need to consider and benefits organizations can gain.
Q: What is driving the need to “deconstruct” PACS?
Reducing medical data silos is important for a number of reasons. If data is siloed and medical images can’t be readily accessed where and when needed, staff members may spend valuable time searching for and sending them. That leaves providers with less time to care for patients. If an image must be retaken, healthcare costs will increase and the patient’s radiation exposure will go up, which may lead to a reduction in quality of care and most likely harm patient satisfaction.
Data silos are a problem for health systems around the country. However, there are strategies available that can help healthcare teams eliminate medical data silos and access the images they need when and where they’re needed.
Patients who live in rural areas face significant health disparities when compared to the general population. From higher rates of disease to lower life expectancies, higher rates of pain and suffering to fewer physicians, rural healthcare has a number of considerable challenges. Solutions that help improve the delivery of care in rural areas are highlighted in the following medical imaging case studies. These real-world examples depict how technology can help reduce report turnaround, provide high-tech services in rural areas and support improvements to patient care.
Case Study #1 | Children’s Hospital and Medical Center, Omaha
For emergency department managers, complaints are a serious and complex issue. They are worrisome due to concerns of possible litigation – emergency medicine is one of the top 10 specialties facing a higher number of lawsuits – and because dissatisfied patients are at odds with goals to improve patient satisfaction and care.
At the same time, ED staff is working in an extremely challenging environment. Physicians must determine whether a patient is truly in pain or feigning it to get, for example, a Percocet prescription. Staff may have to tend to another patient whose partner is becoming belligerent and appears under the influence. Nevertheless, amidst the chaos that can be an ED, there are helpful strategies for handling patient complaints – whether they’re coming from patients or the patients’ loved ones.
It’s virtually impossible to deliver the best outcome to every patient in every care setting without a high level of IT integration. But that level was something of a stretch goal for the team at UnityPoint Health, given that the 30-hospital network stretches across large swaths of Iowa and Illinois.
As leaders at UnityPoint looked to solve their care coordination problems, they quickly realized the need for a centralized architecture to manage medical imaging. They put together a cross-functional team to create an RFP detailing their goal of standardizing and integrating their medical imaging IT platforms.
The last thing an organization looking to consolidate patient images and streamline image sharing needs is a vendor neutral archive that’s not truly vendor neutral. So, how can you quickly sift through the hype to determine whether a product is a gussied-up PACS or a true VNA?
It’s actually not as hard as it seems. PACS are optimized for data injection—i.e., absorbing images from multiple modalities into the system so they can be diagnosed by radiologists and other imaging specialists. Vendor neutral archives, in contrast, must be optimized for outbound communication so that thousands of referring specialists in the community can access patient images. Any product you’re evaluating that doesn’t simplify workflow for all users (not just within or between departments) and enable image data sharing between disparate healthcare systems is not a true vendor neutral archive.