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Data Management - Enterprise image strategy expands beyond radiology

November 30, 2016
Health IT
From the November 2016 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

By Richie Pfeiffer

The IT staff and scores of specialties are now part of multidisciplinary implementations that move many imaging tests across health system networks. As technology evolves, more health care specialties are finding value in medical imaging. More than 57 different clinical areas exchange data within their local networks and with outside providers, who typically get involved when patients:

Get CT or MR scans at a stand-alone imaging center.
Seek second opinions at an outside provider.
Need to send hospital images to a primary care or specialist provider.
Secure referrals at specialists outside their usual network.
Demand better access to their personal health information in the future.

The fact that this is happening means IT leaders and medical imaging departments must partner to create more sophisticated enterprise imaging strategies to accommodate patients’ needs for image sharing across most specialties.

Hospital and health system CIOs are taking notice, as informaticists in the different specialties tap them to organize and implement enterprise-grade image sharing. As these trends become more evident, image sharing technology is more frequently adopted at an enterprise level, driven by the CIO and the CFO with the radiology department influencing, not owning, the decision-making process.

Enterprise architecture: Image exchange built to last

How are CIOs getting involved? By moving imaging beyond storage and addressing clinical workflow pain points. An enterprise imaging strategy comprises the right tools for each “ology” to do its work — interpretation and review of images — with a user interface that gives them the quick access, resolution and perspective, covering the needs of those specialists on a given network. Each hospital and health system has a different network, different clinical needs and are all scaled to their particular patient base. But all successful imaging strategies have the following processes in common:

Cataloging all provider needs: Where are the specialists who need images? Radiology, cardiology and oncology are the usual suspects. Then emergency medicine, intensivists and referring physicians. Each group might not need deep-featured imaging tools, but still need access to images and the interpreting providers’ reports to make real-time clinical care decisions. Make a list to get a handle on the scope of the imaging strategy that facilitates collaboration between physicians — preferably in real time — to let them look at the same image on their respective monitors at the same time, allowing real-time collaboration versus verbal descriptions.

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