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Dose reduction through PACS management

by Sean Ruck, Contributing Editor | January 16, 2014
From the January 2014 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

Dumping the duplicates
When patient John Smith heads to the hospital for a battery of imaging procedures, the radiologist should be aware of any redundancies in the requested exams. If Mr. Smith is on top of his medical history and understands what he’s going in for and recalls that he already had that imaging exam done recently at another facility, he could alert the radiologist and unneeded exams and unnecessary dose can be avoided. But in reality, it’s a small percentage of patients who are really up-to-speed on what’s been done and what’s being done.

But if the radiologist is able to send out a query for the patient and pull the images needed, all those problems could be avoided. Within the same facility, and to a lesser extent, the same hospital network, that query is relatively easy. But once you go beyond a hospital’s immediate group, the challenge to get the needed information increases dramatically. John Smith, who’s known as Patient 1234 at one facility, is Patient 6789 at another, so searching for results based on patient records is bound to fail. It’s also a given that searching for a patient named John Smith is going to fail unless there’s further identifying factors and once those identifiers are determined, getting all procedures for the John Smith standing before the radiologist should be a goal.

Enter the cloud
By putting together a list of identifiers, new cloud solutions are allowing authorized personnel to pull the image studies for each patient. Entering in John’s first and last name and birth date are the options available for every cloud-based PACS. When you drill down further is where the differences in the software options become obvious. One provider options to specify attributes like weight and height, but those identifiers may not be constant. Others allow the query to utilize the patient’s social security number. Nearly all solutions allow the physician to access the different PACS systems through a single sign-in and the interface is all funneled through the cloud-based system, negating the need for numerous PACS operating interfaces.

Security is handled by only allowing the physician to view information pertinent to the case their involved with. If the radiologist is able to pull information they need from an existing exam, the patient is spared the dose, the patient or their insurance provider is spared the expense and John Smith can be on his way.

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