Healthcare leaders consistently work to improve the quality of patient care. And with good reason – suboptimal care can lead to complications, longer hospital stays, higher readmissions and prolonged illness. Improving care not only helps prevent negative outcomes, but it also makes financial sense. For example, one study found that working to reduce patient harm during hospital stays resulted in savings of more than $4 billion in a 3-year timeframe.
One way that hospitals are improving patient care and streamlining internal workflow is by taking an enterprise approach to diagnostic imaging.
Below are five ways that a vendor neutral archive helps improve patient care, including helping clinicians coordinate care, making decisions on the go and reducing patient risk.
1. Helps Improve care coordination.
A vendor neutral archive helps improve patient care by facilitating better care coordination. In a case study, UnityPoint Health, a 30-hospital network in Iowa and Illinois, was able to migrate images from disparate PACS into a vendor neutral archive. This allowed clinicians to access images and related patient information throughout the system without interrupting workflow.
At UnityPoint, the vendor neutral archive empowers primary care providers to take the lead and coordinate care with specialists and other service lines, facilitating optimum management of patient health.
“Healthcare leaders need to think about imaging on a true enterprise scale, including management and accessibility to imaging content,” says Joe Marion, principal at Healthcare Integration Strategies, LLC. “The majority of activity today in this space is still focused on multiple service areas such as radiology and cardiology. It needs to change to a focus on the enterprise level.”
2. Allows clinicians to make informed decisions on the go.
A vendor neutral archive also helps improve care by allowing clinicians to view images in multiple settings, independent of PACS.
Whether a practitioner is at the patient bedside, working remotely or at home, a vendor neutral archive provides the physician with multiple access points to help keep patient care moving forward.
3. Provides augmented patient medical histories.
A vendor neutral archive also allows clinicians to dig in deeper and view patients’ medical histories. Without historical information, practitioners may unknowingly order redundant exams, increasing healthcare costs and/or make a decision that puts the patient at unnecessary risk.
Robust, longitudinal records also provide clinicians with information that may otherwise be difficult to access, slowing both the delivery of patient care and potentially compromising quality.
4. Leverages specialists’ knowledge.
The workflow settings within a vendor neutral archive allow radiology departments to set rules and appropriately route diagnostic images to specific radiologists per their subspecialties.
For example, a workflow set by the department would help ensure that the ECG of a newborn with suspected congenital heart disease would be assigned to the pediatric radiologist on staff.
A streamlined, automated process helps ensure that patient care is delivered by the most qualified practitioner.
5. Helps empower patients.
Patients who have access to their medical images and other patient data are more empowered to take charge of their own care. A vendor neutral archive that’s used in conjunction with a patient portal allows patients to see test results, clinicians’ notes and directions for follow-up care.
“When patients have access to their own imaging, it makes them feel more involved and empowered and helps them understand what’s going with their own care,” says Todd Holling, assistant director of clinical & business systems at UnityPoint.
As healthcare leaders develop strategies for improving patient care, there are valuable tools to leverage. A vendor neutral archive can facilitate better coordination of care, provide longitudinal patient information, leverage subspecialists and empower patients. Healthcare leaders that take an enterprise approach can position their organization to improve care and hopefully save on costs.
Using the tools available, here’s hoping that the healthcare system can surpass that $4 billion saved by improving patient safety. Saving lives and improving care – ultimately that’s priceless.
Read about the growing demand for quick turnaround times, subspecialty reads and other changes affecting radiology departments by downloading the whitepaper, Diagnostic Imaging Trends You Must Watch Closely.
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