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SIIM – Q&A with Dr. Paul Nagy, 2016 SIIM Chair

by Sean Ruck, Contributing Editor | June 16, 2016
From the June 2016 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

One pattern we’ve detected is that people going for certification in imaging informatics have to learn technical and clinical skills to be successful. So technologists come in with clinical skills, or an IT person with very technical skills. If we pair them up in boot camps, it helps them become fully aware of all sides of the field.

HCB News: How has the role of informatics in health care changed over the last decade? And how has the professional practice of informatics changed as well?
The world of biomedical informatics is colliding. The silos are connecting from imaging informatics working with images, medical informatics — diagnostic prediction analysis, public health — population health information, bio informaticists with gene expressions. We’re trying to combine these areas of expertise to find the greatest value for the patient. All these different fields need to integrate with standards to connect them. It’s very exciting. We’ve had these different groups with different data models and standards and we’re all trying to get into the same place now to get patients the best possible care and detect and prevent health care problems.

HCB News: What are the biggest challenges facing informatics professionals today?
On the clinical side, this year’s theme is leading change. It’s not just about technological leadership, but your ability to influence others and understand complex environments as teams work together. As technology professionals we have to understand that we are bridging two different cultures and it requires us to often act as a liaison to help groups deliver better care for patients with technology. On the research side, we have a lot of promising and powerful tools from machine and deep learning. At the same time we are seeing increasing risks and need to ensure we keep patient information secure.

HCB News: Have there been any breakthroughs or legislative pushes you’re particularly optimistic about?
I think what’s exciting is the fact that the overall EMR adoption rate has gone through the roof, enabling us to have enterprise data we never had before. Ordering physicians are applying appropriateness criteria with decision support in a very granular way, allowing us to better understand the reason for the exam and be able to follow up on the patient to see how the report impacted patient care.

HCB News: What do you think the field will look like 10 years from now?
I see the next generation of PACS systems based upon telehealth platforms where radiologists can collaborate with referring physicians. I would say that over the next 10 years we have a big job transforming the field of medicine. We need to make it work much better for patients and providers alike. We need to ensure that data isn’t buried and that radiologists can navigate and synthesize the complete medical record. The amount of data we’re generating is accelerating, so we have our work cut out for us.

I can’t foresee the pace of technological change slowing anytime soon. There will always be the ongoing need for people who will be able to understand technology at a deep level to be able to work with radiologists and other clinical providers in bringing the technology into the clinical environment, and improving the health of our patients.

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