In 2011, officials at Alberta Health Services (AHS) made a startling discovery. A number of CT studies in a rural community had been misinterpreted, raising questions about patient care. As a result of the incident, the province’s Minister of Health called for a thorough examination of quality assurance practices in radiology.
To find a solution that would meet the needs of AHS was a significant undertaking. They are Canada’s largest provincial health system, providing services for more than four million people. The system includes 130 imaging facilities that range from high end acute care trauma centers to small rural community hospitals and health centers. In these facilities, 1800 technologists perform more than 2.8 million exams per year, which are then interpreted by 300 radiologists working in 16 different professional organizations and groups.
The word symbiotic is rarely used to describe the relationship between two hospital departments, but it’s precisely what’s needed for successful tech projects, whether they involve changing IT systems or upgrading existing ones.
Without health care IT to drive new initiatives, imaging departments would install a system and use it until it was so outdated it ceased to be effective. At the same time, without robust physician adoption of new systems or features, IT upgrades benefit precisely no one.
Editor’s Note: The following article by Evan Godt is posted on imagingbiz.com and is reprinted here with permission.
Image: Marty Khatib, JD, RT
Things are a bit complicated in healthcare, to say the least.
Whether it’s additional regulations, a competitive market or changing patient demographics, care delivery is becoming more complex every year. Thankfully, the tools to help physicians deal with the challenges have also evolved.
Marty Khatib, JD, RT, is keenly aware of the demands facing medical imaging as the director of imaging services at Mercy San Juan Medical Center and functional lead for hospital imaging in Dignity Health’s Greater Sacramento, Calif., service area. He notes that today’s dynamic environment can only be navigated with the right people and technology.
As hospitals work to lower costs while providing the type of high-value imaging services sought by patients, many are merging or partnering with independent imaging centers or other hospitals. As with any type of merger and acquisition (M&A) activity, the devil is in the details. Without thoughtful preparation of the current imaging department and an in-depth analysis of what’s being purchased, hospitals may not achieve the goals set out for the merger/partnership.
There are three main areas where mistakes tend to be made:
Innovation is at the heart of excellence in patient care, and radiology helps drive new breakthroughs. To help us look to the future of diagnostic imaging and prepare for this year’s RSNA annual meeting, we’ve asked two of our innovative leaders, Erkan Akyuz and Tomer Levy, to share their insights on industry trends and the evolution of medical imaging and patient care.
Q: What are you most looking forward to at RSNA this year?
Data management is a costly business, especially when it comes to medical imaging. Healthcare providers are challenged with managing data governance, security and disaster recovery across multiple siloed imaging systems. Often, executing and monitoring a single corporate strategy is almost impossible.
Add to that some costly data migrations, as systems go out of date, and you understand why imaging data management is considered to be one of the biggest financial and logistical headaches for healthcare providers.
How can healthcare providers protect their sanity and reduce overhead as new data technology emerges?
Healthcare organizations of all sizes and complexities must address the changing landscape of value-based care. Older, proprietary archive systems are increasingly becoming obsolete, replaced by vendor neutral systems that support each other seamlessly.
This digital integration must be supported by a similar departmental integration. Radiology departments looking to streamline their imaging processes and data with other departments and facilities can turn to vendor neutral archives (VNA) for this purpose.
Here are three ways that a VNA can streamline integration between departments, improving workflow and producing better overall care.
1. Shifting image management away from PACS
Every healthcare leader understands the immense cost of data breaches. Understandably, CIOs and security directors are increasingly concerned about data security. How can the right vendor neutral archive (VNA), allow these leaders to sleep easier at night knowing their data is secure?
Jonathan Carr, Business Development & Channel Manager at McKesson, notes that the centralized nature of a VNA provides the best opportunity for healthcare data protection.
“When you have a VNA, you basically have a centralized inventory of all your data assets in one system,” Carr said. Such an inventory can be used to help consolidate your data under a seamless encryption system.
Whether you crave immediate results from IT investments or love to get ahead of a curve, we’ve got points for consideration on integrating your organization’s cardiovascular information system (CVIS) with your vendor neutral archive (VNA).
Let’s talk about the practical side of integration, the part where you get near-instant gratification. First, if your organization has purchased a VNA, you want to leverage that investment. Connecting the CVIS to the VNA creates opportunities for more efficient storage asset management and reduction in administrative overhead. Most VNA systems today offer image management capabilities that are superior to most CVIS systems. Put simply, it doesn’t make much sense to have a central image repository and store cardiology images in a separate system.
Imaging technology is quickly charting a path toward interoperability for the enterprise, allowing hospitals and patients to access clinical data and images in real time. This represents a new era for medical imaging solutions, but how can hospital executives manage these new resources?
Don Dennison, president/principle, Don K. Dennison Solutions, Inc., and Director-at-large on the Board of Directors for the Society of Imaging Informatics in Medicine (SIIM), recently sought to answer this question at the McKesson Executive Leadership Summit.
Dennison first looked to identify the three trends that currently affect the imaging industry, along with three steps that hospital executives can take to achieve interoperability with their imaging solutions.