A Q&A with Logicalis Healthcare Solutions’ Imaging Expert, Kim Garriott

Until recently, CDs have been the media of choice when providing image access to patients as well as providers outside their primary care facility.  However, Kim Garriott, Principal Consultant, Healthcare Strategies, Logicalis Healthcare Solutions, believes there is a better way.

Q: You’ve been very outspoken lately about the issues inherent in using CDs to exchange medical images.  What are some of the most pressing problems with using CDs today?

A:  The first is, when a patient is referred to a specialist of another care facility, they are burdened with having to go from location to location to obtain copies of their medical images.  For some patients, this could be two or three locations.  In extreme cases, we have even heard about people who are supposed to be staying immobilized between appointments, but who have no choice other than to drive from facility to facility and pick up their image CDs in person on the way to a new appointment.  So, clearly this creates dissatisfaction among patients.

Q: What kind of issues does viewing images on CDs create for the receiving clinician?

A: One of the most important issues is one of timing. Ideally, doctors want to see a patient’s images before they are sitting in the room with the patient.  They want to have their thoughts together and have a care plan prepared so they can discuss treatment options with the patient in person.  They also want to know ahead of time that they won’t have problems viewing the images. They need to know that the images will open, that the CD is compatible with the technology they have in their office, and that their viewer works with the images they are depending upon to make their diagnoses.  If the patient comes in with the CD and the physician is unable to open the images, the visit may be a wasted opportunity and there is the possibility of a delay in care.

Q: Isn’t that most important in trauma cases?

A: It is very important.  Let’s say you have a patient who arrives at a hospital with a head trauma.  The local hospital stabilizes them, but wants to transfer the patient to another more specialized care center. Today, the patient’s images are burned onto a CD and literally strapped to the patient’s chest as they are transferred.  If electronic image exchanges were more prevalent, however, we could send those images in advance, and the trauma team on the receiving end could plan their care path while the patient was still en route.  So it’s about getting the image where it needs to go in advance of when it is needed to ensure the highest level of clinical collaboration and planning among the care team.

Q: So the answer is to adopt an electronic image exchange solution.  Aren’t CDs less expensive?

A: Not necessarily. Depending on the volume of CDs an organization is producing or receiving today, a digital solution can be a much more cost effective way to share images.  If a medium-sized hospital receives 30,000 CDs a year at a processing cost of $10 per CD, that’s $300,000 a year for a single organization just to receive CDs.  At those rates, a digital image exchange solution could literally pay for itself with significant money to spare year over year with the added advantage of creating happier physicians and patients in the process.

Q: What’s the process for moving to a digital image transfer solution?

A: There are really four key steps.  First, you have to examine the organization’s current practices, looking at the ways CDs are being received now and the workflows being used.  Second, you need to prioritize use cases, identifying where the greatest impact on patient care and clinician satisfaction can be made. Third, you need to make workflows seamless; the goal is to make key processes accessible from within the patient’s electronic health record with a single mouse-click so that clinicians readily adopt the new workflow.  And fourth, you have to select a standards-based solution which will help to ensure easier exchange between organizations.

To learn more, you can read a Logicalis Healthcare Solutions press release, a blog written by Kim Garriott entitled “Medical Image Transfers: There is a Better Way,” or download a Logicalis+Ascendian imaging eBook, Driving Positive Change in Healthcare.”  Want to talk with Kim or another member of the Logicalis Healthcare Solutions team? Contact us here.