Case Study | October 09, 2008

Replacing a Legacy PACS

It’s a whole new world the second time around.

Fred Haussman, M.D., emergency room physician, Wilson Memorial Hospital

Fred Haussman, M.D., emergency room physician, Wilson Memorial Hospital

Wilson Memorial Hospital, located in Sydney, OH, had been an early adopter of PACS – in fact, they had been using PACS for nine years when they decided to shop around for a new vendor in 2007. Here’s what mattered most to them during the selection process: functionality, the ability to distribute images with ease and providing excellent service to physicians and patients.

Wilson Memorial, a full-service community hospital serving residents of Shelby County and some of the surrounding communities, is accredited by the Healthcare Facility Accreditation Program (HFAP). Wilson holds to the highest standards of care for outpatients, inpatients and those served in business and industry.

CHALLENGE
“We’d been through this before,” said Tony Linkmeyer, director of imaging at Wilson Memorial. “Our facility had gone through the PACS selection process. We knew what we needed – and we knew what our legacy PACS wasn’t delivering.”
With their legacy PACS, it often took 20 minutes to access a single image – and most clinicians simply won’t wait that long for their images. As a result, only 30 percent of their physicians used their legacy PACS system – their other physicians insisted on films or CDs.

Wilson Memorial draws referrals from physicians in the surrounding county, but most of their referrals – 75 percent – actually come from physicians within the four walls of the hospital. The challenge was to be able to provide excellent results to those physicians, while providing access to images to physicians beyond the four walls of the hospital – and in a way that allowed access without any IT headaches.

“With our previous PACS, staff members were spending an inordinate amount of time fetching historical images or simply figuring out where a patient was in the imaging process. In addition, our legacy system wasn’t built for image distribution outside the hospital, so our referring physician population was left without a solution,” said Linkmeyer.

SOLUTION
“Doctors want to access images and reports quickly,” said Linkmeyer. “They want to know immediately when images and results are available. With AMICAS PACS, we now have the opportunity to shoot those images out to anyone in the state of Ohio – within seconds.”

That’s seconds – compared to the 20 minutes it used to take to access a single image. And, because Wilson Memorial’s PACS is Web-based, it’s easy to access images, regardless of the referring physician’s physical location. Already, 70 percent of their referring physicians have made the move to PACS.

Seventy-five percent of Wilson Memorial’s referrals come from doctors inside the hospital, but the hospital also gets referrals from specialists throughout the state of Ohio. Now physicians both inside and outside the hospital’s four walls have quick access to images – and, with RealTime Worklist, they instantly see the status of a patient’s exam, including the availability of results.

While Wilson Memorial’s staff members used to spend a lot of time fetching historical exams, the architecture of their current PACS ensures that all images are available online all the time – with instant access at the click of a button. This frees up staff members to focus on other tasks, such as providing customer service to patients, new strategic initiatives or marketing outreach.

BENEFITS
“Our imaging volume has more than doubled over the last few years,” said Linkmeyer. “And, with our current PACS, we now have happier doctors, fewer costs associated with CDs and film – and we can continue to grow without pain.”

The power of Wilson Memorial’s Web-based PACS has also been felt well beyond the radiology department, according to Bruce Koch M.D., an emergency room physician, who values having real-time insight into his patients in the healthcare delivery chain.

“It’s much easier to log in to PACS than it is to have to call the radiology department when I need an update on one of my patients. AMICAS PACS is easy to use – and the dedicated emergency department worklist streamlines the review process.”

“Our current PACS is a sigh of relief,” said Jeff Partee, CIO at Wilson Memorial. “We had no idea how much the market had progressed while we were stagnating on our legacy system. Both Tony and I pushed for this one – and we haven’t once regretted our decision.”

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