Hackensack Radiology Group (HRG)
As a successful, independent, three-site imaging center conducting more than 60,000 outpatient procedures each year in one of the most competitive regions in the country, Hackensack Radiology Group (HRG) is used to big goals and even bigger challenges.
HRG is approaching a half-century in business in a part of northeastern New Jersey that is part of the demanding New York/New Jersey/Connecticut tri-state metropolitan region. It is also affiliated with the nationally renowned Hackensack University Medical Center. As such, there is a lot of pressure to keep up with the latest and most reliable, cost-effective and time-efficient technologies available. When they make changes at HRG, they do it promptly and assertively; the important thing is to do what’s right for the sake of patient care.
One of their latest workflow improvements came via Agfa’s IMPAX RIS/PACS Solution for imaging centers.
Keeping the lead
“We already had Agfa PACS and knew that their RIS would work best to fit our needs,” said Andrew Osiason, M.D., the radiologist responsible for binging new technologies to HRG. “When we decided to review vendors, we knew we had to look for flexibility and the ability to enhance the system when needed.” Dr. Osiason had been with HRG a little more than 10 years when the decision was reached to make the switch, and he was able to provide the group with detailed knowledge of what was needed in order to maintain their leadership role in outpatient radiology in the region.
It was through his efforts, and several of his colleagues, that HRG welcomed the first installation in the U.S. of Agfa’s IMPAX RIS/PACS Solution for imaging centers. It went live in July 2005 and not only helped Agfa by acting as a clinical trial site, but significantly aided HRG in its own quest for increased control in several key areas. It proved to be an invaluable asset to everything from pre-certification authorizations and better practice analysis, to improved reporting and more efficient workflow.
“Our practice simply outgrew our old RIS over the last few years,” explained Donald Elting, manager of the Newman Street Imaging Center in Hackensack and the corporate headquarters in River Edge, NJ. “We started as a single imaging center and grew to what we are today, with a sizable support staff to keep everything running smoothly.” In addition to the Hackensack center, HRG has a facility in Oradell, NJ, and another in Paramus, NJ, both of which are busy suburban communities fewer than 20 miles from midtown Manhattan. For its entire history, HRG has prided itself on having on its medical staff only the leading specialists in the region in all areas of radiology, including neuroradiology, body and vascular imaging, orthopaedic imaging and mammography. With a radiology staff of over 20 top professionals, HRG also performs all imaging modalities, including CT, PET/CT, MRI, nuclear medicine, ultrasound, mammography, bone density and general X-ray.
“Imaging centers like ours are always looking to increase business without compromising patient care in any way,” Elting continued. “Technology, we believe, is market driven, and we never have any doubt that we will find the technology we need to meet our demands.”
Swift and seamless
Agfa’s IMPAX RIS/PACS Solution for imaging centers quickly proved to be one of the solutions that immediately met their demands. During the first few months of the trial, HRG noticed several of its goals being met, including improved billing turnaround time (a reduction of up to 15 hours a week), easier access to scans and reports, and faster scheduling.
The RIS/PACS solution that Dr. Osiason and his colleagues decided upon provides bi-directional integration, allowing staff radiologists to utilize a single login and single worklist to access quickly and accurately access patient clinical data from the RIS and patient image data from IMPAX.
“Obviously, the benefit of RIS and PACS working as one enables me to have everything I need at my fingertips when viewing a patient,” said Dr. Osiason. “Including access to prescriptions, worksheets, demographics, billing and more.”
Improvement in pre-certification tracking was one of the biggest assets noted by the staff, including the ability to break out multi-CPT code exams for virtually all insurance plans, in addition to embedded document scanning and single-desktop integration to IMPAX. Prior to the implementation, HRG staffers discovered that they rarely knew in a timely fashion when re-authorizations were required because they were not kept informed when exams changed. Now they are — and the changes are added automatically to the re-authorization worklist.
Covering all bases
“Our new RIS enables our staff members who deal with pre-certification to be anywhere between three and five days ahead of the game,” Elting explained. “That, of course, gives them more time to handle other necessary functions much more effectively.” The increased productivity has resulted in more of what HRG had already been used to: A large volume of patients and exams on a daily basis.
Dr. Osiason and his radiology colleagues didn’t miss a beat while the implementation proceeded. “Most of us were already familiar with PACS and RIS technology, so we were very comfortable with what the new system was and what it was capable of doing for us,” he said. “Plus, it helps that the Agfa solution is user friendly and very intuitive.” It was, he added, an easy learning curve.
The implementation process included a detailed on-site workflow analysis. The staff was able to effect a data migration from their previous RIS to convert existing patient demographics, insurance carriers, referring physicians and patient reports into the new RIS/PACS solution. The new RIS was then interfaced to several radiology modalities via a DICOM Modality Worklist (MWL) and Modality Performed Procedure Step (MPPS).
The staffing, marketing and technology choices that HRG has made year after year have been good ones, which is one reason for their patient care achievements over such a long period of time. As imaging centers nationwide are discovering, there are many reasons to select an integrated RIS/PACS solution from a single vendor, including increased efficiencies and productivity, accountability, cost-effectiveness, elimination of complexities, quick implementation, faster support resolution and more. “We are very happy with the productivity improvements we have experienced in such a short amount of time,” Dr. Osiason said. “I expect a lot more in the coming months as more enhancements are added.”
HRG is used to success. They have been for 50 years and don’t intend to slow up. After all, they work hard for it.