Marrying the EMR to Your Imaging Strategy


Imaging clinicians reviewing images in enterprise imaging systemThe ongoing transition to value-based care challenges healthcare providers to maximize their use of the ever-growing amount of digital patient data to deliver better outcomes. But the level of interoperability that’s required to connect various systems in order to leverage a patient’s information is one of many challenges for health systems. In February, at HIMSS 2017 in Orlando, many of the sessions and exhibits discussed this aspect of the transition to value-based care.

One area of particular interest dealt with reconciling the two large systems in every health IT ecosystem – the electronic medical record (EMR) and the enterprise imaging suite. How can providers enable greater access and interoperability – a happy marriage if you will – between these two foundational systems? Independently, they each provide substantial financial, clinical and operational benefits, but little has been done to significantly align the workflow and data between them.

To get a deeper understanding of our customers’ priorities and challenges integrating an EMR with numerous imaging solutions, Change Healthcare hosted a focus group during HIMSS where we heard firsthand from a diverse group of senior health IT leaders about some of their priorities and challenges connecting imaging across their enterprises. Some of the key topics discussed included:

1. The ongoing need to consolidate imaging solutions while still supporting the unique needs of each care team member

Medical images provide significant benefits to care team members across the enterprise, including diagnosis, treatment planning, care coordination, and patient communication to name a few. But for individuals who don’t normally work within the radiology department’s PACS, accessing these images can be problematic. Additionally, users have different needs and require different tools based on their roles. Although everyone needs access to the same images and associated imaging data, they may be presented differently to each person. This variance in needs and roles creates a challenge for IT teams within health systems, as they must search for ways to minimize the duplication of imaging solutions that manage the data and the number of viewers required to visualize it.

2. The challenge of managing and integrating images and imaging information collected outside radiology and cardiology departments

Radiology and Cardiology departments were early adopters of technology, and therefore have well-established digital, automated workflows. But many other departments that create images – Pathology, Gastroenterology, Ophthalmology, and Wound Care – lack these systems. With manual workflows and no ability to share images outside these departments, the data acquired here remains isolated and can’t be used to help drive better health outcomes and improved efficiency in care delivery.

 3. The importance of balancing clinical and IT needs

As Scott Galbari stated in an earlier post, “Departments must demand technical platforms where interoperability is built-in by design rather than being an afterthought. The technical, clinical and business experts in health care organizations now understand and agree that true interoperability requires the exchange of image-related data that are relevant and contextual. As such, a solid contextual and semantic interoperability is the first and most fundamental requirement to deliver the value of imaging today.” Balancing clinical needs and costs associated with integrating and connecting information across an enterprise is a key challenge faced by health systems. For senior IT leaders in healthcare enterprises, connecting imaging and imaging-related data to the care team remains a central theme, and solutions are needed to connect the EMR system with the many imaging solutions that exist across the enterprise. Bi-directional interoperability streamlines access to this data across systems, locations and stakeholders and gives end users access to the relevant information they need in a way that’s easy to consume.

To find out more ways we can help you connect your IT environment so you can help deliver better outcomes to your patients, contact us here.

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