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The role of imaging informatics in real world radiology departments

by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | May 14, 2018
Health IT
From the May 2018 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

All purchases need to be cost-justifiable and, until the benefits of a particular system are well documented to show financial value, he says smaller hospitals are likely to keep their distance.

Erickson agrees that big hospitals may be more capable of experimenting with tools that let them automatically identify important components of images. “They may have advantages when they’re managing that data and the storage systems. The basic story is the same regardless of size, but as in many businesses, when you can do it at scale, you can often do it more effectively.”

Strategies and cost considerations for the enterprise
One of the key challenges with imaging informatics is figuring out who is responsible for taking initiative and leading the charge. Different hospitals have come up with different answers to this question, and the key is playing to your strengths.

“If IT views its role as mostly purchasing software and implementing it, and keeping the computers running, then doing something like AI may be challenging for them,” said Erickson. “In that case, the clinical departments are going to have to take on a stronger role in developing that expertise. If the IT department has an experimental arm then that may be where the expertise lies.”

Once a facility determines who is in charge of these operations, staff can begin training on how to interact with the new tools. This extends beyond just knowing how the technology works, and requires staff members to know what computers can or cannot do so that they are able to direct and assist the technology in conveying and representing information meaningfully.

One example involves free text versus structured text, with the use of AI algorithms able to decipher information more quickly from structured reports. Such reports can break down and require staff to use free text to assist with data computation, a feat that requires knowledge of how the algorithm works.

“A practice needs to understand where an off-the-shelf solution works for them and to what extent it needs to be customized versus how the practice itself needs to change,” said Petersilge. “At the end of the day, it’s about the patient receiving an examination with a report generated and how the institution makes that process efficient, safe and effective.”

Reaching this point requires a united front with all parties in agreement on how far they want to proceed with their enterprise imaging strategy, and a thorough understanding of what is financially feasible.

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