Healthcare Chief Information Officers (CIOs) have a lot on their plates, from overseeing data security to developing technical strategies that support optimal patient care. As they assess areas for improvement, they should consider taking time to explore opportunities within radiology. Diagnostic medical imaging advances can benefit the rest of the healthcare organization, helping to improve efficiency and save money. Here are five things that CIOs can do to help improve their diagnostic imaging departments.
1. Integrate images with EHR data.
Studies have shown that EHRs are improving patient care, saving lives and promoting efficiency. CIOs have an opportunity to optimize the investment their healthcare organizations have made in their EHRs by integrating them with diagnostic medical imaging.
EHRs contain immense amounts of useful data and information, but oftentimes that data sits idle. Integrating diagnostic medical imaging with EHRs allows radiologists to access clinical data from within their imaging cockpit, which helps save time and helps reduce errors; makes a patient’s image history, physical, ED notes, lab results and more accessible; and utilizes filters to scrutinize the most germane items. For example, if a patient with heart disease is in the ED, the radiologist doesn’t need to see charts related to his 2012 appendectomy but may want to view hospital discharge notes from a 2013 angioplasty.
2. Consider a vendor neutral archive.
Another way for CIOs to help improve diagnostic imaging at their organizations is by investing in a vendor neutral archive (VNA). VNAs are highly effective tools for image-enabling EHRs. A truly neutral VNA will work independent of any PACS and vendor, as well as across multiple enterprises and regions to allow healthcare providers to access patients’ longitudinal medical records. VNAs facilitate collaboration, thanks to enterprise-wide access to imaging information and the ability to share data (where permitted) between disparate systems.
A VNA has financial benefits as well. Because it consolidates systems, a VNA can reduce costs related to escalating image management and operations. In addition, VNAs reduce costs because a health system will never again need to migrate PACS data.
3. Invest in peer review solutions.
CIOs can help improve their diagnostic medical imaging department by investing in solutions that incorporate peer review into workflow. Peer review is an important aspect of a radiologist’s job, benefiting both patients and radiologists who can learn from feedback. However, actually performing peer review can be a burden to radiologists because traditional QA completion can interrupt their dictation workflow.
Peer review that’s incorporated into radiologists’ workflow, on the other hand, becomes a seamless part of their day. Radiologists are able to both learn from the peers who review their work and, as a department, pinpoint areas where as a group they can improve performance.
4. Ensure that diagnostic imaging solutions work optimally.
Another way that CIOs can help improve the diagnostic medical imaging department is by ensuring that the solutions in place are being fully utilized. Over time, imaging solutions may process more slowly, usually due to larger data sets that can tax older hardware. Staff members who were originally instructed on the system may have left, leaving new employees who lack formal, thorough training. Employees may use manual tools, not realizing that they’re underutilizing the system’s capabilities.
CIOs can ensure that the radiology team is using the existing diagnostic imaging tools to their optimal level by utilizing medical imaging consultants. For example, an optimization team can perform a system checkup, analyzing hardware, configurations, workflow and users’ experience in order to offer recommendations that improve the department.
5. Help radiology team manage workflow.
CIOs can also help the radiology team better manage their workflow to improve the department’s performance. Boosting efficiency helps save time and reduce costs and supports top-notch patient care. There are a number of QICS spaces that address radiology team challenges to help improve efficiency, from radiation dose management to technologist review, complication tracking to coding discrepancy. QICS removes manual steps to help improve workflow, supports efforts to adhere to regulatory and quality requirements, and also creates records for accountability and analytics. In addition, an advanced work list tool can help radiologists improve productivity by helping them access interpretation, quality and communication tasks to be completed.
As CIOs look at strategies to improve their diagnostic medical imaging department, there are a number of steps they can take. Imaging solutions can boost efficiency, information integration and more, helping to reduce costs, support radiologists’ performance and ultimately help improve patient care.
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