November 18, 2015 — Logicalis Healthcare Solutions and strategic partner Ascendian Healthcare announced the initiation of a campaign to help healthcare organizations develop an effective enterprise imaging strategy. Efforts include a new eBook co-authored by the two companies and participation in a joint eHealth Radio Network Interview.
When healthcare practitioners talked about “medical imaging,” discussions were once limited to functions within radiology and cardiology departments. But today, due to the proliferation of digital imaging technologies from cameras in mobile devices to low-cost ultrasound equipment and surgical scopes, the production of images is now taking place in as many as 40 service lines throughout modern healthcare systems. This means tremendous numbers of images are being acquired by a vast array of disparate devices. And it also means that every healthcare discipline has its own medical images, many of which are stored in siloed archives that are either incompatible or inaccessible to the electronic health records (EHRs) hospitals and clinics have been tasked with creating.
“When clinical decisions need to be made, relevant images must be available and easily accessible via the EHR at the point of care, yet this is not always the case,” said Kim Garriott, principal consultant, healthcare strategies, for Logicalis Healthcare Solutions. “What once presented itself as a simple storage and archival issue has now resulted in the disassociation of images from patient data records and the unintended consequence of making access to this important diagnostic content difficult at best. In fact, some of today’s most important clinical images are not even being retained at all. And when clinical content is retained, it is often being shared in ways that are neither predictable nor secure via a spectrum of specialties throughout the medical field.”
“Medical imaging has grown to become both complex and largely unmanaged, something which makes it a hurdle healthcare CIOs are essentially unprepared to tackle,” said Shawn McKenzie, president and CEO of Ascendian. “Yet, because medical imaging plays such a pivotal role through the entire short- and long-term care continuum, it is a hurdle that must not only be a highly prioritized component to the healthcare enterprise strategic pathway, but one which must be mastered in short order as organizations continue to drive toward an effective coordinated care model.”
Now that the race to implement electronic health records is in its final lap, industry-wide attention is being sharply focused on EHR optimization, with a spotlight on the importance of using medical images in a way that provides meaningful use to both caregiver and patient alike. Therefore, Logicalis and Ascendian believe it is important to remember the following six tips when developing an effective enterprise imaging strategy, something which must quickly become a top-of-mind issue for CIOs and other hospital executives:
- Imagine the outcome: Details are the cornerstone of a well-executed enterprise imaging strategy, and it is those details, coupled with the ability to intelligently retrieve and analyze what has been collected, that will deliver actionable results to improve both patient care and clinician workflow and satisfaction in the end.
- Collect uniform data: When acquiring images, it’s critical to collect the same data about every image, something which requires considerable forethought as workflows are designed. The data collected about each image will play a significant role in the ability to provide data to the end user in a flexible, relevant format.
- Know your image users: When selecting enabling technologies or designing a program for image access and visualization, it’s important to understand the various categories of image users and to define the requirements for the viewer based on the needs of the viewing audience, from diagnosticians to clinical decision-makers, referential users, remote users and even patients.
- Prioritize use cases: When considering how images should be exchanged in cooperative care environments, identify the variety of use cases that will be supported by the image exchange program and prioritize according to positive impact, with an emphasis on reducing time to treatment.
- Decide early about native format storage: As images are generated, a decision must be made about whether or not they will be stored in their native formats or archived in a more standardized format like DICOM. There are advantages to each, something which IT and those needing access to the images must discuss and resolve early in the process.
- Continue good governance practices: Imaging is a rules-based endeavor that requires solid data governance policies. Governance is an enduring process within an enterprise imaging program. It does not end with the conclusion of the initial project or any subsequent projects. It survives each of the projects and must continue forward, though not with the same level of intensity as in the initial projects. Governance of an enterprise imaging program will also be ongoing as needs arise to purchase devices, integrate third-party image management systems and, as time goes on, include new file types –audio, for example; a governance body will need to continually discuss new developments such as these to ensure that the integrity of the organization’s clinical imaging library remains intact.