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Nuance unveils program at RSNA to bring treatment guidelines to point-of-care

by Gus Iversen, Editor in Chief | December 04, 2014
Nuance Communications, Inc
With over 2,000 members, Nuance's PowerShare Network is already an industry leader in cloud-based medical imaging exchange databases. Now the company is upping the ante on streamlined workflow by integrating clinical guidelines into its system. They're calling it the PowerShare Innovation Program, and they hope it will help doctors make better informed decisions, faster.

At the 100th meeting of the RSNA, DOTmed sat down with representatives from Nuance, the ACR, and Massachusetts General Hospital, (three partners approaching the platform from unique perspectives) to talk about the implications of the software.

Christy Murfitt, director of diagnostic solutions marketing for Nuance health care division, points to two core problems the PowerShare Innovation Program sets out to resolve. The first problem is timely access to information.

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"Guidelines can be downloaded but they don't integrate automatically with the radiologist's workflow," said Murfitt, who believes the inconvenience of digging for guidelines sometimes limits their use.

Dr. Terry Alkasab, board certified radiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, said radiologists often see hundreds of patients per day. With that kind of workload it isn't always a simple task to track down the proper guidelines for treatment.

Also, Alkasab said as imaging modalities improve, radiologists have to contest with more incidental findings. Reacting properly to those findings can be improved with easier access to guidelines.

Dr. Lincoln L. Berland, a member of the ACR and board certified radiologist at the University of Alabama said, "Studies have shown that just having guidelines available doesn't mean they will be used. But if it's integrated into the work process they will adopt them."

Much like implementing a spell checker into a word processing program, the rules are easier to adhere to when suggestions are instantly and readily available.

The other key area where the PowerShare Innovation Program aims to improve is in quality metrics reporting. "Radiologists have been a bit slow to submit the PQRS (Physician Quality Reporting System) to CMS for a variety of reasons," said Murfitt, who cites lack of incentives and a disruption to their basic workflow as contributing factors. With the Nuance program, metrics reporting becomes an automated part of the treatment process.

Improving access to, and contributions to, big data continues to be a core concept in the evolution of EHRs and a cloud-reliant future for health care. While these trends were abundant at RSNA, the work being done by Nuance, the ACR, and Mass. General represent an exciting example of coming together from different sides of the industry with a big goal, and the install base to leverage those ambitions with an open, cross-platform, approach.

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