How Enterprise Imaging Solutions Can Help Shorten Hospital Stays

2017-04-13
 

Patient in a Hospital with PACSThe PACS of today has evolved significantly from where it started. Today’s PACS has the potential to bridge the radiology department to the rest of the healthcare enterprise, and to help optimize the efficiency of its users. With PACS a radiologist can have improved turnaround time on reports, collaborate with clinicians, and positively impact patient care. This is the goal of all healthcare organizations: to drive better patient outcomes. To this end, today’s PACS is more than just a departmental image archiving system; it’s a leading-edge enterprise imaging solution.

A recently-released survey published in the Journal of Infection and Public Health sought to understand how enterprise imaging systems impacts patient care. A majority of the physicians surveyed said that they believe the right solution can contribute to shorter patient hospital stays, which is done by ensuring that studies are read by the right specialists in a timely manner, then communicated effectively to treating clinicians.

Here are three benefits of today’s enterprise imaging systems that can impact the patient care cycle.

1. Effective Task Management

Enterprise imaging solutions are much more than just an image repository, and are capable of more than just facilitating report creation. Today’s leading-edge imaging systems manage various necessary tasks that radiology staff must complete in addition to the final report, such as critical results management and emergency room discrepancy reporting. As more is required of imaging staff, having a simplified way to consolidate and manage these complex tasks becomes necessary. Enterprise imaging systems provide a unified worklist for users which combines all of their tasks in one place and prioritizes them based on the nature of the task. In doing so, all tasks can be completed in a timelier manner, facilitating short turnaround times on reports, while still meeting all regulatory requirements. Getting reports to the care team sooner will typically expedite treatment and potentially avoid unnecessary procedures.

2. Improved Communication Between Systems

Traditionally PACS communicates with other hospital information systems through static point-to-point interfaces without any context awareness. This potentially misses the transfer of critical patient context information to the radiologist. Radiologists are generally able to separate log into a hospital’s EMR if they would like to find additional information, but this workflow is time consuming and disruptive, especially when it’s not known if or where additional information exists. In contrast, enterprise imaging systems optimize the information in the EMR by providing contextually relevant information within the PACS such that the radiologist doesn’t leave their reading environment. With fewer disruptions and better information, radiologists can process even complex cases faster, which can improve patient outcomes and shorten length of stay.

3. Enhanced Clinician Communication

Enterprise imaging systems should also facilitate collaboration between clinicians, connecting the radiologist to the healthcare team and paving the way for value-based care. Improved communication and collaboration provides the opportunity to engage clinicians in a way that positively impacts care delivery and follow up. But this providing collaboration capabilities is just part of the equation; enterprise imaging solutions also make this quick and easy, such that referring clinicians don’t have to decipher who they should speak to or if they are available. Likewise if a radiologists needs to communicate with a clinicians in real-time they should be able to connect easily and within their reading environment, and should rely on technology to have appropriate contact information available.

There are many factors to consider that go into determining the length of stay a patient will have at a hospital. When imaging is part of the equation, having an industry-leading enterprise imaging systemthat facilitates radiologist efficiency and provides the right data for accurate, timely care will positively impact the care cycle. It’s important for radiology departments to think outside of the benefits just within the radiology department and start to look at how PACS can interact with the enterprise and help an organization to reach its broader goals.

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