It’s virtually impossible to deliver the best outcome to every patient in every care setting without a high level of IT integration. But that level was something of a stretch goal for the team at UnityPoint Health, given that the 30-hospital network stretches across large swaths of Iowa and Illinois.
As leaders at UnityPoint looked to solve their care coordination problems, they quickly realized the need for a centralized architecture to manage medical imaging. They put together a cross-functional team to create an RFP detailing their goal of standardizing and integrating their medical imaging IT platforms.
The project had some ambitious objectives:
- Make images and image information accessible system wide.
- Reduce disconnected silos of medical imaging information into a “single source of truth.”
- Implement the new system without interrupting care team workflow.
- Allow clinicians to access their patients’ medical images from the mobile device of their choice.
- Reduce the cost of medical imaging and image sharing.
McKesson responded to the RFP with a flexible, scalable medical imaging solution and was chosen by the RFP and implementation team that I was part of at the time (I’m currently a technical consultant with the McKesson Enterprise Image Repository™ Team).
Working together, my team and McKesson successfully implemented a vendor neutral archive without interrupting care team workflow across the enterprise. Over a six-month period, McKesson Enterprise Image Repository™ was deployed and millions of medical imaging studies were migrated from archives to the new system. More recently, the team went live with McKesson Clinical Reference Viewer™ to allow mobile access to images by providers.
Having met all of its initial goals, the project has been declared a success by UnityPoint, which continues on its consolidation path. In fact, Todd Holling, Assistant Director of Clinical & Business Systems at UnityPoint, told me that integrating systems and standardizing platforms is his department’s number one priority at the moment. “The more variability we have in our IT platforms, the more costs, complexities and issues we face,” he said.
Right now, Holling and his team are focused on increasing the accessibility of reports. “We want to be more virtual with our architecture and lighter in our delivery format, so that people can access imaging data anytime, anywhere without having to download a full client,” he said.
That lighter delivery is the basis for Holling’s new goal: making reports and images accessible to patients. “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,” he said, adding that the ultimate goal is for patients to be able to access digital images in real time from their homes.