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Q&A with SIIM chair-elect Dr. Marc Kohli

by Sean Ruck, Contributing Editor | June 23, 2020
Health IT
From the May 2020 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

HCB News: Are imaging informatics professionals more integrated into the mainstream day-to-day of healthcare organizations than they have been in the past?
MK: I’d say yes. The trend in general is that those informatics professionals were initially hired by the radiology department, but have increasingly become part of the central IT organizations throughout the country. I think that is both good and bad. It’s allowed a lot of people to specialize and be more focused on their applications. But with it, also comes more overhead from a change management perspective. More standardization and less overall flexibility, which helps us deliver service more reliably, also increases overhead. It has been a trend, but I think we’re close to a plateau on that one.

HCB News: COVID-19 is dominating the news cycle now and likely for the next few months at the least. Is there any part imaging informatics plays in combatting the disease?

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MK: Radiology has always been a leader when it comes to telemedicine. There are many advantages to telemedicine for responding to things like a pandemic. I know the number one issue for us at UCSF is trying to spin up our home work stations and trying to redistribute the work. Because of the complexity and specific applications we use, it’s not just as easy as giving someone a laptop and telling them to go work. We have display requirements to be mindful of, software limitations and hardware requirements, privacy and security concerns. I think we’re well-positioned to handle the work, but there’s a lot to do.

There’s definitely a lot of buzz around the informatics community trying to streamline operations. Imaging informatics professionals are going to be involved in things like how to reduce elective procedure volumes, reduce elective scans, but do it in a way that you don’t forget about your patients, don’t compromise their care.

Finally, after telemedicine and operational support, the third piece is innovation. Imaging informatics has a strong history of innovation. Some people are asking if there’s some way machine learning could help in the response to COVID. I think there are a lot of different ways, with one being a workflow standpoint, maybe early alerting, and things like that.

HCB News: How do you predict imaging informatics will change over the next five years?
MK: I think the big changes facing imaging informatics are going to be related to the push for interoperability and expanded patient access to data. I also know CMS is starting to change its reporting requirements for things like MIPS and MACRA and I think we’re going to see imaging informatics professionals submit to more registries.

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