July 17, 2015 - Logicalis Healthcare Solutions, the healthcare-focused arm of Logicalis US, announced formation of a strategic partnership with Ascendian Healthcare Consulting, specializing in medical imaging. Together, the two companies will combine their talents and resources to help healthcare information technology (IT) professionals tackle medical imaging obstacles.
Medical imaging is complex, largely unmanaged, and a hurdle healthcare chief information officers (CIOs) are often unprepared to tackle, yet it plays a pivotal role in the well-being of each patient's diagnosis as well as both short- and long-term care. The challenge is that tremendous numbers of clinical images are captured by a wide array of disparate devices, and many are shared in unpredictable and often unsecured ways throughout a spectrum of specialties within the medical field. Even when these invaluable diagnostic images are appropriately captured within a patient's electronic health record (EHR), they are rarely organized in such a way that physicians can quickly locate the information they need when they need it most.
"We need to get to a place in medicine where HIT is regularly helping physicians make clinical decisions," said Kim Garriott, principal consultant, healthcare strategies for Logicalis Healthcare Solutions. "Today's physicians have to sort through all of the clinical content in a patient's EHR simply to find the information they need. By creating a thoughtful approach to acquiring, storing and surfacing medical images, we can envision a future where, based on the patient's clinical history, the specialty of the provider, and the physician's past behavior, we will be able to predict which imaging studies and lab reports a physician will need to review and present a package of pertinent information to the physician upon entering the patient's room.
She continued, "It's not just about the technology, though. It's also about the clinician's workflow; if it's difficult or time-consuming for physicians to locate the relevant images, they may not use them or, at best, they will be very frustrated. It has to be intuitive and work well within the flow of their day and the amount of time they dedicate to each patient to be meaningful and useful in the clinical setting."
"To healthcare CIOs, medical imaging is just something that should work," said Shawn McKenzie, Ascendian's president and CEO. "It's not something the IT team wants to deal with because it's complex and requires an array of specialized skill sets. This isn't just about radiology or cardiology – imaging is about anything that produces a diagnostic object which means the amount of images being collected is staggering. Savvy healthcare CIOs know they're going to be held accountable for managing this mountain of information, and many have begun to recognize the pain points – they've seen the writing on the proverbial hospital wall. This is real. Medical imaging is the next big summit that healthcare IT professionals will absolutely have to scale, and it's not something they can afford to overlook any longer."
According to both organizations, there are seven reasons healthcare CIOs avoid thinking about medical imaging:
- Imaging's complexity is often misunderstood: Imaging is far more than pictures created by radiology or cardiology; there are a host of other image-producing service lines that significantly raise the bar in gathering, storing, securing, and providing efficient access to these images in both a patient-centric and physician-approved way.
- Imaging has its own language: Even the most sophisticated healthcare IT organizations often find themselves lacking the right skill sets to develop and execute a pervasive imaging strategy. Turning to outside experts is not only prudent, but could save millions of dollars in the long run by avoiding costly mistakes.
- Imaging requires a strategy: Imaging is not a one-time project. It is an enduring effort that will be part of the continuum of care on an everyday basis from here forward. If you haven't started, you're behind. You need a well-thought-out imaging strategy, and the one you implement must both optimize your patients' electronic health records and enable your physicians' workflow today and tomorrow.
- Disparate storage must be minimized: Do you have a legacy picture archiving and communication system (PACS)? A vendor-neutral archive (VNA)? What model best suits your organization – as well as those you share patient files with? While minimizing disparate storage systems will help solve interoperability issues internally, it is also crucial to consider how you will effectively, efficiently and safely move images between your organization and external agencies.
- Imaging requires security: Doctors and patients alike are accustomed to using the technology they have in their hands. Patients are increasingly texting images to doctors via their smartphones, for example, widening the potential for security vulnerabilities as these communications grow. Nonetheless, medical images, acquired via any means, must be routed to the appropriate patient files and protected according to regulatory guidelines.
- Today's plan must include tomorrow's mergers and acquisitions (M&As): Astute healthcare CIOs know their organization is likely to grow both organically and through mergers or acquisitions, something that has to be taken into account when planning an imaging strategy. If M&A activity is a likelihood, a phased approach may be the best way to introduce an imaging strategy throughout the enterprise.
- HIEs require regional participation: If you need to demonstrate value in the health information exchange (HIE) space, you'll need a strategy that incorporates workflows at the regional level where you are exchanging information.