By Kim Garriott, Principal Consultant, Healthcare Strategies, Logicalis Healthcare Solutions

If you attended RSNA or plan to attend HIMSS, you know that one of the most-talked-about topics of conversation will be the shift from fee-for-service care to value-based care.

The goal of value-based care is to improve the quality of care for the patient by changing how healthcare systems are reimbursed for their services. In the quest to fulfill this goal, new techniques and technologies have emerged that can improve both the quality and cost of patient care, including advancements in electronic health records (EHRs), an increased use of patient imaging, telehealth and more. But these changes have also exposed challenges facing IT healthcare professionals including barriers imposed by inaccessible and siloed images that need to be overcome to provide the kind of collaborative care that is most beneficial for the patient as well as the healthcare provider’s bottom line.

If that sounds like the directive that EHRs were originally intended to address, it is – but there is one critical flaw: EHRs typically don’t present the whole patient story. Important information such as patient images, documents and other clinical multimedia files are not always married to the EHR in consistent and relevant ways that allow these elements to be viewed in the proper context by providers both inside and outside of the patient’s primary healthcare system. As a result, access to medical images and other multimedia data is fragmented and doctors are left to make care decisions often without a comprehensive patient record to contribute to their decision-making accuracy.

Enterprise imaging offers a remedy, yet its role is often misunderstood. One of the biggest misconceptions among healthcare CIOs today is that enterprise imaging is strictly about moving the storage of patient images from today’s Picture Archive and Communication System (PACS) to vendor-neutral archives (VNAs).  In fact, however, enterprise imaging solutions are so much more.  They are purpose-built imaging engines that give healthcare systems a modular, phased approach to managing images as well as the ability to deliver real-time collaboration among caregivers all on a single platform. And, because enterprise imaging is a pervasive solution, it offers healthcare providers a clear and cost-effective detour around the roadblocks currently standing in the way of true value-based, patient-centric care and the financial rewards associated with delivering it.

Therefore, from advanced visualization tools and measurements to ‘medical selfies,’ healthcare organizations must examine a comprehensive enterprise imaging platform to meet the sophisticated collaborative needs of the entire care team as well as engaged patients in today’s value-based care environment. When you do that, you’ll see that enterprise imaging provides the answer.

When exploring options for an enterprise imaging platform, customers often ask me what criteria they should look for. The following checklist provides a few solid suggestions.

Component Interoperability

While many solutions have been pieced together with components that were not initially designed for interoperability, the various components of a solid enterprise imaging platform must work together harmoniously. Buying a platform that was designed from inception to work as one system will simultaneously ensure the highest level of interoperability and the lowest maintenance overhead.

Multiple Viewer Options

Selecting a solution with multiple viewer options built into the platform allows clinicians to easily choose between “reference-quality” image viewing and full-fidelity “diagnostic-quality” image viewing with the click of a mouse. This kind of choice broadens the available data for real-time decision making at the point of care. 

Federated Image Viewing

If your organization is growing through acquisitions or has affiliate partners, look for a platform that supports federated image viewing. This means, with a few simple permissions, caregivers at disparate organizations can view images within the other organizations’ PACS or VNAs without the need to move the images. 

Mobile Image Acquisition

The ability to securely acquire digital photos on a mobile device is a must. The application, however, must not only be secure but also provide real-time patient worklists and the ability to assign required patient demographic and other image-related metadata in a standardized fashion. While the most popular EHRs provide mobile applications to acquire images, these applications do not yet support the assignment of fixed, standardized data elements which is a critical step in ensuring data integrity and relevant presentation within the EHR.

Image Exchange and Sharing

The ability to easily exchange and share images with patients and outside providers without the use of CDs is critical. The platform should image-enable existing patient portals or provide a free-standing, secure portal that supports the ability to quickly exchange and share images with outside providers. This capability is virtually guaranteed to provide increased patient and physician satisfaction and a reduction in operational expense.

Longitudinal Patient History

The platform should be able to present a patient’s complete longitudinal imaging history regardless of image type. Digital photos, traditional radiology and cardiology images along with others such as ophthalmology, maternal fetal medicine and surgical/medical scope images should be displayed in an intuitive patient worklist. This allows the caregiver to pick and choose the images that they would like to view and compare in a side-by-side fashion.

Data Integrity

The platform must enable a high level of data integrity, thereby enhancing population health datasets and data presentation relevance by providing the ability to employ role-appropriate, standardized acquisition workflows and assign uniform discrete data elements at the point of acquisition.

 

Want to learn more? Start by downloading Logicalis Healthcare Solutions’ enterprise imaging white paper, “Accessible Images, Stronger Outcomes: How Enterprise Imaging Aligns with Value-Based Care.” If an enterprise imaging strategy isn’t part of your EHR optimization plans today, where will you be in five years? Learn what the right enterprise imaging strategy can mean to your patients’ clinical outcomes and your organization’s bottom line, then see how Logicalis can help. Finally, explore Logicalis’ recent healthcare-related news as well as our dedicated healthcare website: http://ow.ly/jEd2306Sha0.