Case Study | May 03, 2012

McKesson’s PACS was the solution to Desert Radiologists’ volume and storage challenges

The imaging volume at Desert Radiologists was so high that the radiologists on staff never felt comfortable scheduling time off. In 2008, the Las Vegas, Nev., practice replaced its outdated and overloaded picture archiving and communication system (PACS) with a more efficient system. The new McKesson PACS provided a single database system, improving workflow and reducing turnaround time.

Also, as Desert Radiologists’ imaging volume continued to increase, its existing storage solution could not keep up. McKesson leveraged Iron Mountain for a combination of hosted and off-site storage. This solution meets today’s more stringent security regulations with no capital outlay and yet still provides a cost savings.

Desert Radiologists is a high-efficiency practice performing 1.25 million exams per year with a staff of 47 radiologists. Its previous PACS was unable to handle the daily volume, had no common worklist, no flexibility and no longer was supported by its vendor.

“The hospitals we service often implement their own systems, so our biggest expense was always adding a new radiologist,” explains Whitney B. Edmister, M.D., Ph.D., chairman of the IT committee at Desert Radiologists. “However, with our own technology, we can implement a workflow that is efficient for our radiologists, increases radiologist reading volume and makes a huge difference to our bottom line.”

In addition to looking for an integrated radiology information system (RIS)/PACS solution that could handle its volume for multiple hospitals and imaging centers, Desert Radiologists needed a new storage solution. Its existing solution incorporated both storage and DICOM archiving. However, sending data to the vendor-neutral archive created two PACS and increased the complexity of managing and purging the data.

The IT committee began looking at the cost of purchasing two large DICOM archives at two geographically separate data centers. Initial capital outlay would have been close to $1 million and Desert Radiologists would have had to maintain the hardware, software and bandwidth.

McKesson is now providing a comprehensive solution for all of Desert Radiologists’ medical imaging needs. By putting all of its hospitals and imaging centers on a common worklist in the McKesson PACS, the practice can distribute its large image volume so all radiologists are productive, reading any case from any location and providing final signed reports 24 hours a day.

“McKesson has a very robust, well-engineered RIS/PACS system,” says Edmister. “It is scalable from a small hospital or imaging center to a large complex multi-specialty practice. Our radiologists really like working on it. Since the interface is intuitive, it was quick to learn and made for an easy transition.”

McKesson also solved Desert Radiologists’ storage solution challenges by transitioning 20 terabytes of data from its old PACS system in a matter of weeks. All prior studies were loaded on the McKesson PACS, making the work process for radiologists much more efficient.

“By outsourcing our deep archive, we converted a large fixed cost into a monthly expense,” explains Edmister. “McKesson’s hosted storage solution, leveraging Iron Mountain, saves us money and frees up IT resources for other projects.”

“As our business continues to grow, I don’t worry about architecture because McKesson has taken care of it,” says Mike Reardon, information services director, Desert Radiologists. “McKesson has a single platform and a service that meets our needs for cost, footprint, management and availability. We also have peace of mind that our medical imaging data is safe and secure.”

With today’s regulatory bodies expecting more stringent data security, Desert Radiologists has a safe storage solution with the capacity to retain as much data as necessary to be compliant.

McKesson’s medical imaging solution has also given Desert Radiologists a competitive advantage. “As medical reimbursement fees continue to drop, it’s important to know our upfront costs,” Reardon notes. “Our storage solution minimizes many costs that would otherwise translate to our patients.”

Reardon adds that McKesson’s RIS/PACS has reduced report turnaround time for most facilities to less than 10 minutes, which is bringing more business to Desert Radiologists.

“With McKesson, we have increased our volume, reduced our turnaround time and improved patient care by providing physicians with the information they need to make decisions for their patients,” summarizes Edmister. “We also have zero percent lost reports, 100 percent billing of the exams we read and virtually no unscheduled downtime.”

Case study supplied by McKesson Provider Technologies

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