Feature | Enterprise Imaging | June 01, 2016 | Greg Freiherr

Users Will Determine Whether Enterprise Imaging Succeeds

enterprise imaging

Predictions are usually based less on what will come than what has been. They are projections of the recent past. That realization makes me a little bit nervous when it comes to enterprise imaging

Presented as the next logical step beyond picture archiving and communication systems (PACS), enterprise imaging is the extrapolation of technologies that literally saved radiology from information overload. Previously unimaginable quantities of data — terabytes upon terabytes — are now routinely stored and transmitted. Complex studies are presented not only in reading rooms, but also on screens anywhere in the world, a capability that has allowed high-quality diagnostics regardless of the time or day.

The technologies underlying these accomplishments could have even greater impact, if applied to the healthcare enterprise.

 

Putting The Pieces Together

Zero-footprint viewers now can be used to view digital images created by virtually any branch of medicine. Archives, developed initially to store DICOM-based images, have been broadened to store other images, graphs, charts and even documents. Bandwidth has ballooned, thanks to networks built to support smartphones and the Web.

With these technologies coming together, it seems as though, for the first time, the many disciplines of medical practice might have a common means of communication, one they can use to create an integrated team. It just makes sense that enterprise imaging will happen; that it will be embraced; and it will be celebrated.

Here’s the rub: What makes sense doesn’t always happen.

Local circumstances may impact the availability and utility of enterprise imaging. Among them will be the competence of those who set it up; whether the technologies integrate effectively; the reach of these technologies across the enterprise and the disciplines within; whether and how well networks are maintained; and whether sufficient budget is provided to solve problems and to allow for necessary upgrades. Many other challenges will inevitably arise. But persistence and human ingenuity can overcome them. 

The one most difficult to address will be getting enough practitioners to participate.

Even a perfectly operating network with well-matched technological components will fail if a critical mass of practitioners refuses to use it.

While there is consensus that the current practice of medicine reflects the cloistering of practitioners — and this is a bad thing — some might see medical silos as comfort zones, providing familiarity, focus and insulation from distraction. Specialists with such a view may consider enterprise imaging and its silo-busting technologies a threat.

Other practitioners may resist the use of enterprise imaging simply due to a deeply-seated fear of change.

 

What Really Matters 

All the technological pieces appear ready to be in place. Zero-footprint viewers have evolved into the kind of display technologies needed to support enterprise imaging. Vendor neutral archives (VNA) have proven their value, first as the means for eliminating the need to migrate data from legacy to modern PACS, and now as the central repositories of multiple types of data. Standards are set and functioning. Workflow engines are chugging along. 

Much has been said about how forging these technologies into enterprise imaging could improve patient welfare, even possibly reduce the cost of healthcare. But it is all too easy to embrace techno-utopianism; to believe technology will solve problems.

For medical practitioners to form effective, functioning teams, the members of those disciplines must want to come together.

Will the availability of enterprise imaging incentivize medical disciplines to step outside their silos; to communicate as they have never done before; to change the way they make decisions and how they manage patients, improving and perhaps reducing the cost of healthcare?

People, as much as or more than technology, will provide the answers.

 

Editor’s note: This column is the culmination of a series of four blogs by industry consultant Greg Freiherr on Enterprise Imaging: The Next Step in IT Health. The blogs, “The Impracticality of a Truly Universal Viewer for Enterprise Imaging,” “Will Enterprise Imaging Save Hippocratic Medicine?,” “Why Workflow Engines Must Work Right” and “Will Big Data Analytics Kickoff a New Golden Age for Radiology?” can be found at www.itnonline.com/blogs.

Greg Freiherr has reported on developments in radiology since 1983. He runs the consulting service, The Freiherr Group. 

Related Content

Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust Implements Change Healthcare Enterprise Imaging
News | Enterprise Imaging | April 15, 2019
Change Healthcare successfully implemented its Radiology PACS (picture archiving and communication system), Image...
At RSNA 2018, Stratasys showed how 3-D printed models can help plan surgeries and assist in making complex diagnoses.

At RSNA 2018, Stratasys showed how 3-D printed models can help plan surgeries and assist in making complex diagnoses.

Feature | Enterprise Imaging | April 11, 2019 | By Jeff Zagoudis
The central premise behind en...
Cleveland Clinic Union Hospital Selects Novarad for Enterprise Imaging Management
News | Enterprise Imaging | April 08, 2019
Cleveland Clinic Union Hospital (CCUH) recently selected Novarad to provide its facility with the Ncompass Enterprise...
Visage 7 Enterprise Imaging Platform Highlighted at 2019 SBI/ACR Breast Imaging Symposium
News | Enterprise Imaging | April 05, 2019
Visage Imaging will be exhibiting the latest version of the Visage 7 Enterprise Imaging Platform at the 2019 Society of...
Videos | RSNA | April 03, 2019
ITN Editor Dave Fornell takes a tour of some of the most interesting new medical imaging technologies displa
Novarad Names New President
News | Enterprise Imaging | March 29, 2019
Medical imaging software company Novarad announced that it has appointed Paul Jensen as company president.
Videos | Artificial Intelligence | March 28, 2019
ITN Editor Dave Fornell takes a tour of some of the most interesting new...
2-D and 3-D digital breast images

Since the widespread adoption of digital imaging and PACS, referring physicians seldom visit radiology reading rooms, substantially reducing a major source of feedback for radiologists. (Shown are 2-D and 3-D digital breast images.) A software module to be described April 5 at the SBI/ACR Breast Imaging Symposium has been providing that feedback for radiologists interpreting breast images at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Image courtesy of Hologic

Feature | Women's Health | March 28, 2019 | By Greg Freiherr
Sponsored Content | Videos | Enterprise Imaging | March 27, 2019
GE Healthcare Centricity Clinical Archive (CCA) Analytics, shown at ...