At SSM Health, Improving Quality of Care is Central to the 3-D Imaging Lab

As one of the largest Catholic, not-for-profit healthcare systems in the United States, St. Louis-based SSM Health has expanded immensely over the years. So, too, has its ability to apply innovative imaging solutions that meet the needs of it growing patient base. One of the largest integrated delivery systems in the nation, SSM Health serves the comprehensive health needs of communities across the Midwest, with facilities in Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma and Wisconsin.

SSM Health is sponsored by the Franciscan Sisters of Mary, which opened in 1872. It is presently one of the largest employers in the cities it serves. The system has more than 1,300 employed physicians and 33,000 other employees across 20 hospitals, 60 outpatient care sites, pediatric medical centers, outpatient centers, clinics, surgery centers and a host of affiliated organizations. SSM Health subsidiaries include St. Louis University Hospital, St. Mary’s Good Samaritan Inc. and SSM Heart Institute.

With growth come challenges. Chief among them: do more with less. Find solutions that help multisite hospitals achieve workflow optimization and standardization, build 3-D labs, and improve patient experience and outcomes. For radiologists, imaging directors and C-suite executives, the struggles may be different, but they are very real. All share one goal — improving patient care.

 

Single-source Solution Addresses Needs

For people like Jessica Chambers, MHA, RT(CT), director of diagnostic imaging for SSM Health, challenges create opportunities. As a former computed tomography (CT) tech, Chambers has found her niche in her current role. Identifying and expanding the use of imaging technology from early in her career, her work now focuses on helping professionals within the SSM Health system realize that shared vision. In doing so, she has become a champion of sharing how one centralized solution can vastly benefit a health system across an expanding enterprise.

With the support of SSM Health executives, clinicians and imaging teams, the 3-D lab keep the IntelliSpace Portal from Philips Healthcare is answering a wide range of challenges. From clinical, workflow and financial perspectives, the 3-D lab is a benefit to the patient, first and foremost, as well as the radiologists, technicians and those in the C-suite. Designed to optimize workflow, IntelliSpace Portal supports consistency across applications. SSM Health is presently using the 3-D lab in five hospitals and across multiple domains, including, but not limited to radiology, cardiology, oncology and other clinical settings.

In doing so, it has served up a host of benefits, such as improved image quality and diagnostic confidence. Additionally, with its use of the 3-D lab, SSM Health has been able to expand quality of care at a low cost, improve turnaround times and the number and type of exams, and increase both radiologist and employee satisfaction, according to Chambers.

“The two biggest benefits are the quality in care and the efficiency in the CT department,” she said. “The driver behind having this 3-D lab and the biggest takeaway I see is just the consistency of quality. It’s all about the quality of care we are providing to our patients now, and I am very passionate about this.

“The Philips IntelliSpace Portal was capable of handling the mass volumes we were doing in the 3-D lab,” continued Chambers. “The portal allows us to keep up with workflow, and it helped our CT techs be more efficient.”

Speaking to the portal’s process and the benefits across the enterprise, Chambers found the ability to connect multiple hospitals a key distinction. “A major selling point is that we can have multiple people and sites utilizing the portal,” she explained. “The second bonus was it is multi-vendor.* As we have a variety of scanners across all our hospitals, we needed a solution that could accommodate multiple vendors. This one centralized solution can accept all vendors, so it does not matter what scanner we have. We needed a solution that could accept them all, and the Philips portal did.”

From a business standpoint, SSM Health measures the success of the 3-D Lab across the enterprise in many ways. According to Chambers: “By using the 3-D lab, we are able to take the post-processing out of the CT tech’s hands. This keeps them from having to do the busy work and, most notably, allows them to be more present with the patient, which is always beneficial. In the past, we had 30-minute time slots. By taking the post-processing out of the CT tech’s hands, we have the time slots down to 20 minutes. When you increase from 16 to 24 time slots in a given day, over five facilities, you see a significant increase in capacity.”

The quantifiable outcomes of the 3-D lab are seen daily with an increase in the number of sites and departments that the imaging solution has impacted. Chambers noted, “We know that in 2013, we completed nearly 1,300 exams. In 2016, that number increased to 15,160. We have eliminated the need for third-party vendors (for stent planning), offering dramatic cost savings and increased radiologist and employee satisfaction.” She also said that as more CT techs are added, the department is able to recoup the salaries and initial investment in the long-term, as having the capacity to perform more exams drives revenue.

 

Quality Images + Improved Diagnostic Confidence = Better Patient Experience

While appreciating significant operational and financial benefits, there are noteworthy clinical and diagnostic advantages uncovered regularly in the SSM Health 3-D imaging lab. Having shepherded the solution’s growth, Chambers is enthusiastic about the solution’s improved imaging and diagnostic confidence.

“The 3-D lab benefits physicians and patients in cardiology, urology and the oncology settings, among others,” said Chambers. “From a diagnostic standpoint in oncology, for example, it is about our ability to use the 3-D imaging lab to track tumors to the nth degree, and to know whether it is growing or shrinking. Some of our competitors might not be able to do that, so it is really about the whole patient experience and getting them the best care that they can receive.”

As one of the nation’s largest integrated delivery systems, SSM Health takes pride in its 3-D lab. With the patient focus the IntelliSpace Portal offers, SSM Health continues to find solutions that support them and improve care. The results: improved patient experience and care, and answering challenges for radiologists, imaging directors and C-suite executives.

Results are specific to the institution where they were obtained and may not reflect the results achievable at other institutions.

 

Case study supplied by Philips Healthcare.

* Please contact your local Philips representative for details on multi-vendor coverage.

** Results are specific to the institution where they were obtained and may not reflect the results achievable at


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