IT Matters - Radiology workflow orchestration

by Sean Ruck, Contributing Editor | December 26, 2017
Health IT
From the November 2017 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

That all works into what the procedure costs.

So billing information is very limiting.

“While no radiologist would say, ‘I’m a CT/abdomen person,’ because they’re really trained in a variety of disciplines, there are some radiologists that have their expertise modality-based. Someone in nuclear medicine is trained to read a specific modality, or a specific body system. And that’s one of the places where workflow orchestrators provide great benefit.”

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So while patient information could be pulled at a very shallow level from billing systems, reports to help workflow management leaned on two other systems, PACS and dictation programs. Hirschorn says PACS was more often used since those systems were usually in place before a speech recognition system. Since PACS and speech recognition systems have other specific purposes in mind, at best they’re workaround systems.

“What do you have to work with for PACS in the way of list making? Is there something for instance, that labels each exam as neuro or musculoskeletal? No, because that’s not information that PACS needed,” Hirschorn says.

Since the early days of PACS, up until around 2010, most of the information provided only detailed modality and body part imaged. A chest CT or an MR of the head, for example. And for over a decade, that was typically good enough. It covered most of what a radiologist needed, or in some cases they might need to check an additional list – like ultrasound, since not everyone reads ultrasound. If it’s a dozen radiologists or so, 30 lists total could be manageable. But Hirschorn says it gets unmanageable once you multiply that number by 10 or more and you realize there’s more that can be done. By using workflow orchestrators, it’s possible to rightsize the radiology departments across a health care system. Load sharing becomes possible, meaning that a facility isn’t forced to choose between holding off on scans or having radiologists with a different area of expertise stepping in when the pediatric radiologist is sick or on vacation. Load sharing also enables health care networks to improve the work/life balance by shifting work around. If one facility is light on work and another might have their team staying until 8 p.m., there are solutions. Workflow orchestration helps to make multi-hospital systems work in a more coordinated way as a whole rather than a collection of parts.

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