As the power of information technology expands, the healthcare system has begun to shrink. Integrated IT systems are allowing providers to communicate across an enterprise like never before.
Nowhere is this more true than in medical imaging. Radiology is, of course, traditionally thought of as the generator of life-saving diagnostic imaging, but departments across the enterprise have been capturing visual data for years. Now, these various imaging silos are starting to come together as the concept of enterprise imaging becomes more widely understood and valued.
Enterprise imaging deals with the storage, management and viewing of all imaging—DICOM or otherwise—across all departments. From traditional high-end imaging hubs like radiology and cardiology to dermatology, pathology, surgery, the ED and more.
Providers should take notice. An enterprise imaging strategy can generate value by bridging the gaps in the care continuum, creating a ladder up from an individual department and connecting physicians across a health system—and beyond.
Here are six use cases for enterprise imaging that can be implemented today:
1. Engage Patients
Patients want control of their health data. When it comes to images, they want to be able to share them with their loved ones and with the provider of their choice. An image-enabled patient portal can increase usage and value.
Surveys have shown that patients place a high value on such capabilities. A poll conducted in 2013 by international marketing consultancy IDR Medical, on behalf of Carestream Health, asked 1,000 patients about their preferences regarding obtaining images.
More than 86 percent said they want access to both their images and the written report via an online portal, with nearly half wanting immediate access even if they would receive the imaging before their physician. The most common advantages, in the eyes of these patients, include the ability to easily share and maintain their imaging history, improved quality of care and avoidance of repeat imaging. Security was the common concern.
It would keep patients coming back, too. Nearly four out of five patients surveyed said they would return to a facility for future imaging if they offered a patient portal.
Real-world tests have shown portals deliver on their promises. Carestream’s MyVue patient portal was deployed in Ferrara, Italy and found a portal enhanced the relationship between patient and provider, with patients reporting the technology was easy to use and understand.
“The most significant outcome was that more than 98 percent of the patients who participated in the early trial were so enthusiastic about the product that they decided to continue using it in the future,” says Giorgio Benea, MD, radiologist at Delta Hospital in Ferrara.
“On one hand, we have been given the possibility of making the diagnostic medical imaging pathway more efficient in our radiology department. While on the other, we have the potential for some extremely significant advantages for our patients.”
Similar success was seen at Houston Medical Imaging (HMI) when a private radiology practice that reports over 300,000 procedures annually launched the MyVue portal in 2012. After implementing the portal, more than half of incoming patients signed up and were active in using the application to download or share their images.
The practice estimates that the portal could wind up saving HMI nearly $15,000 per year by using electronic transfer of images in lieu of burning and shipping CDs. There was also hardly any additional burden to HMI’s IT department in terms of assisting patients with the portal: in the first three months after implementation, despite more than 2,600 patients registering on the application, the IT department received just 47 phone calls asking for assistance, the majority of which were simple password resets.
2. Improve Department Workflow
The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about medical imaging is probably x-ray, CT or MRI. True, these workhorse modalities capturing images in standardized DICOM format are the backbone of the radiology department, but across an enterprise, other image formats may, in fact, be more numerous.
Take the case of Reggio Emilia Hospital. In recent years it began efforts to centralize information management, yet when it came to imaging, they realized that across the facility, less than 50,000 images per year were DICOM while more than 160,000 were other formats that are not DICOM