Portals Provide Benefits to Physicians and Patients, With Few Barriers to Access

Cristine Kao

Cristine Kao, Global Marketing Manager, Healthcare IT, Carestream

Clinical applications continue to be a vital part of our ever-evolving health care system as Meaningful Use Stage 2 increases in adoption and patient engagement receivers a higher participation rate. Not only is engagement occurring between patients and physicians in regards to accessing their EHRs, but patients are increasingly asking for access to their medical images so that they have their entire medical history at their fingertips. As proof of this, we have seen the value of providing patients with access to medical imaging portals, and the long-term benefits it has for both them and physicians, according to a study conducted by IDR Medical GmbH [full disclosure: the study was commissioned by Carestream].

From the study, it became clear that physicians need to be offering patients access to these portals because the patients are demanding it. Among the 1,000 people surveyed, the results found that 83% of the patients see value in being able to access their medical images via a patient portal. The financial advantage for providing patients with access is that patient satisfaction increases, according to the study. Respondents said (76.5% of them) they would recommend such a portal, and a physician who provides access to the portal, to family and friends.

Patient satisfaction allows healthcare providers to engage their patients in a way that both improves the overall care for the patient and allows for providers to retain and attract more patients. The study showed that 79.3% of respondents would return for future scans based on having access to their medical images via a portal. With Meaningful Use Stage 2, healthcare providers must have patient engagement capabilities in place with at least 5% of their patients. The reason being that engaged patients are more educated about their healthcare and because of this knowledge, they will want to be more invested in their care.

It is common for healthcare providers to claim that not only do patients not want the access to portals (which the study says is not true), but that there are barriers that would prevent patients from adopting the new technologies.

  • Age: Older populations take more medical images and receive medical care more often than younger patients. The study sought to answer whether age would be a detriment to portal deployment and adoption, and it turns out that age is not a barrier. On a scale of 1 to 7, with 1 being “extremely unlikely” and 7 being “extremely likely,” all seven age-segmented groups rated their likelihood of using this tool greater than 4.75. Most importantly, while patients age 71 and above scored the lowest at 4.76, the age group 51-60 scored the highest at 6.08. A score of 4.76 still shows a more likely interest in portals, with the overall results being high.
  • Technology: On the same 1 to 7 scale, respondents who characterize themselves as having very basic, moderate and advanced levels of IT competence scored 5.44, 5.79 and 6.09, respectively, for the likelihood of using an imaging portal. Similar to age, level of knowledge about technology will not prove to be a barrier to patient portal adoption among patients.
  • Image retakes: A hypothesis about image retakes hindering the use of an imaging portal was proven incorrect in the study. On the 1 to 7 scale, those who have not had to undergo an image retake scored 5.8, compared to those who have needed to have their image retaken at 6.0. Respondents’ overall scores ranked from 5.75 to 6.02 across X-ray, ultrasound and mammogram testing. Like age and technology, having images retaken proves not to be barrier with interest remaining high across all segments.

Patient portals are now in a phase where they are a “must-have” for healthcare providers. Aside from Meaningful Use mandates and incentives, the benefits of deploying a patient portal are proving that these technologies are benefitting both the healthcare providers and the patients. A more educated and knowledgeable population of patients is not only inevitable, but is already here. Mobile and wearable technologies are keeping people more in tune with their bodies, and now patient portals are keeping them in tune with their medical visits and exams.

ECR 2014: How Vendor-Neutral Data Storage Can Break Down Department Silos

Saskia Groeneveld, Wordwide Marketing Manager, HCIS, Carestream

Saskia Groeneveld, Wordwide Marketing Manager, HCIS, Carestream

Be it imaging or healthcare information systems, the ultimate goal is of the physicians is to provide the highest quality of care to the patient. Reducing medical errors and duplicative care for patients is a must if providers are to make their treatments efficient and effective. However, within information systems, data is often being kept within silos and this is impeding on facilities to provide the most efficient care.

Today, the combination of diagnostic image and data management is a complex challenge. Facilities need to manage their costs without compromising productivity, workflow, or quality of care. Understanding the facility’s needs is, first and foremost, the initial step in the quest for properly implementing an appropriate solution—and these needs will vary among organizations. Common needs include:

  • Department silos archives replaced by unique archive
  • Cross-site secured data sharing
  • Benefits to the overall enterprise rather than one specific department.
  • Consolidate patient-centric data repository

One answer to these needs is a consolidated archive –where all data from all departments is combined in a single repository but that means the high cost of a larger archive or additional storage capacity for the current one. It also means a major disruption to established departmental workflow. Also, while this data may be archived, that’s all it is –there’s no efficient way to access it, display it or distribute it.

The archive preserves information in a vendor-neutral format, and is available across the enterprise for access.

The archive preserves information in a vendor-neutral format, and is available across the enterprise for access.

The answer to these needs is becoming clearer that a comprehensive, vendor-neutral, patient-centric solution that can accommodate multiple departments, multiple modalities, and multiple data types, while allowing each department to maintain autonomy will be fulfilling in financial, workflow, and quality of care aspects.

To get the most out of a VNA, there should be a number of features to look for. These include:

  • Patient centric repository for storing all data, which can save an organization on money and resources due to to all data being stored and access from a single location
  • Enterprise workflow portal that has an interface to manage siloed storage and data sources without changing the departmental workflow
  • Advanced reporting and clinical viewers to distribute data, which allows sharing and clinical collaboration by giving clinicians across the enterprise access to the patient’s longitudinal record and contextually aware data
  • Intelligent administration, which would involve a dashboard with real-time analytics to provide clinicians to the most up-to-date results, leading to more efficient care for the patients.

There are also a number of requirements a facility must be aware of when implementing a VNA. These core requirements, such as interoperability, flexibility, scalability, and disaster recovery capabilities, should be achievable thanks to the features of the VNA. As data usage increase—and it will continue to increase for the foreseeable future—facilities must be prepared to handle this influx of data. Storage capacity and easy accessibility for all necessary departments is a must, and anything less will be unsuitable for organizations.

At ECR 2014, Carestream will be demoing and showing off its latest solution for enterprise data management. Join us in booth #210 to see a live demo and learn how we can manage various data formats for your organization.

HIMSS 2014: Personal Health Technologies Help to Answer the $4.6 Trillion Dollar Question

Eric Dishman, Intel Fellow and General Manager of the Intel Health & Life Sciences Group

Eric Dishman, Intel Fellow and General Manager of the Intel Health & Life Sciences Group, Intel Corporation

Below is a guest blog post from Eric Dishman, Intel Fellow and General Manager of the Intel Health & Life Sciences Group. If you will be at HIMSS14, be sure to attend his educational session (#74) on Tuesday, Feb. 25, at 10 a.m. in Room #320. During his talk, Eric will share his own experience battling cancer and the lessons he learned about the importance of a customized care treatment plan. You will also hear about the future of genomics and personalized medicine. Find out more information and read the latest blog posts on health IT in the Intel Health and Life Sciences Community.

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In the currently raging debates about healthcare, there’s little attention to population aging and the cost of care — two critical trends that I call the $4.6 trillion question.

By 2020, there will be 55 million Americans over age 65, reflecting a global population aging trend that could be as important to our future as global climate change.  Also by 2020, according to federal government projections, the nation’s healthcare costs will be $4.6 trillion, close to doubling in a decade.

One of the ways we must respond to these trends is to use technologies that enable a model I call “care anywhere.” Thanks to a range of personal health technologies available now—mobile health (mHealth) capabilities for smart phones and tablets, telehealth technologies for remote patient monitoring and virtual visits, intelligent software assistants for prompting and coaching, and social technologies for connecting patients, families, and providers in powerful new ways—we have the opportunity to move away from costly, institution-centric care delivery for the majority of needs.

The core necessity is this: care must occur at home as the default model, not in a hospital or a clinic. We need this to curb escalating costs, increase access and improve patient experience and outcomes.

Policy makers are paying attention.  Last month, committees in both the House and Senate passed Medicare reform through Sustained Growth Rate (SGR) bills with bipartisan support, encouraging greater interoperability and data exchange for electronic health records (EHRs). And a discussion of telehealth measures led to an agreement between the Congressional Budget Office director and Senate to work together on how to estimate savings, an issue that has plagued telehealth and mHealth for years.

But even with all of the excitement, reforms and investment activity around mHealth, the promise of care anywhere – made possible by mobile technologies, data analytics and real-time connectivity – is far from being realized.

I think about the importance of care anywhere from three perspectives:

  1. As a patient who tried to force in-home, mobile and virtual care models for myself while undergoing cancer and chronic kidney disease treatment for 24 years, my fight was not just against cancer but against a flawed healthcare system.
  2. As a social scientist who has studied the cultures of healthcare innovation, I have seen the many challenges we must overcome to redefine the roles of patient, caregiver and provider.
  3. And as a business executive responsible for health innovation opportunities globally, I have learned a lot from other parts of the world that are deploying social, political and technical infrastructure for care anywhere.

A new Intel study found that more and more people are feeling empowered through new technology tools to become fuller participants in their own care. More than half of the respondents globally believe the traditional hospital will become obsolete in the future.HIMSS14

Today, technology is reducing unnecessary emergency room trips using real-time video collaboration between patients, EMTs and doctors and reducing doctor office visits with innovations such as in-home blood pressure, ultrasound and eye tests that instantly send information from your smartphone to your doctor.

In Indianapolis, where cardiac patients were treated using remote care technology, St. Vincent’s Hospital saw a 75 percent decrease in hospital re-admissions, proving that care anywhere can take costs out of the system and better support patient recovery.

In the future, doctors will be able to track patients’ health instantaneously through ingestible tracking devices in their bodies. More than 70 percent of respondents in our research are even receptive to using tools like toilet sensors, prescription bottle sensors and swallowed monitors.

But no amount of technology innovation investment alone can help us mainstream mHealth. We need a shared roadmap and strategy to create a movement around these care models. Remote care will never gain momentum without laws that allow doctors to be reimbursed for effective patient care no matter how it is delivered.

Medicare reform through the SGR includes telehealth as a method for physicians to transition to alternate payment models. Reform should provide incentives to use advanced technology innovation, when appropriate. As Congress makes needed changes in payment, let’s take this opportunity to make bold changes in the way people access care. By expanding telehealth reimbursement for all chronically ill patients in their homes, not only will patients benefit, but the United States will see a reduction in Medicare costs.

The Wyden-Isakson-Paulsen-Welch Better Care, Lower Cost Act of 2014, introduced last week, offers a targeted approach for providers to focus on chronic care management by offering preventive services through new technologies such as telehealth.  This bipartisan, bicameral legislation would encourage providers to coordinate care and reward them for achieving healthy outcomes rather than for the number of services they provide. It’s about time we change the formula for smart care and payment in the United States

Our nation is aging and traditional healthcare costs are unsustainable. Technology advancement has outpaced our laws. Patients have told us that they are ready to embrace care anywhere. It is time for policy makers to help patients, their families and a broader range of health workers innovate answers to the $4.6 trillion dollar question.

BIOGRAPHY:

Eric Dishman
Intel Fellow and General Manager of the Health & Life Sciences Group, Intel Corporation

Eric Dishman is an Intel Fellow and General Manager of the Health & Life Sciences Group, responsible for driving Intel’s strategy, R&D, new product and policy initiatives for health and life science solutions.

He is known for pioneering techniques that incorporate anthropology, ethnography, and other social science methods into the design and development of new technologies. Eric’s organization focuses on growth opportunities for Intel in health IT, genomics & personalized medicine, consumer wellness, and care coordination technologies.

HIMSS 2014: The Challenge of Image Sharing

Greg Freiherr

Greg Freiherr, a frequent contributor to Medscape and Diagnostic Imaging Europe, as well as a consultant to the medical imaging industry.

Before LAN there was sneakernet. Highly reliable but time-consuming, sneakernet transfers data the old fashioned way via CD, DVD, floppy disk or USB-drive walked from one computer to another. It has lasting appeal. Obviously.  Consider the range.  Flash drives holding from 4 to 512 MB can look like just about anything: minions…surgeons…thumbs.  (Gotta love ‘em.)

It shouldn’t be surprising, therefore, that patients are carrying their CTs, MRIs and other medical images from one doctor to another.  They might be shared over networks, but these are uncommon, their implementation restricted by provider cost concerns and patient privacy issues.

Having a simple way to share medical images across providers and between far flung locations has obvious benefits for everyone.  The sheer volume of data and the importance of images to patient management underscore this. And this will only grow.  Radiology is evolving, its role expanding from diagnostic to therapeutic assessment, screening to patient follow-up. Little wonder, then, that an efficient means to transfer images among providers has enormous potential to impact the quality and cost of care.

This shouldn’t even be an issue.  For most of the past decade, medicine has been working toward  regional health information organizations (RHIOs) and health information exchanges (HIEs) to enable the sharing of medical information. Yet these have fallen short.  Even the most successful only share summaries, leaving the transfer of actual data to private solutions.

Vue Motion

Image sharing is becoming increasingly popular on mobile devices among physicians and patients.

The most promising of these solutions leave no footprint. They are compatible with multiple operating systems and browsers; run on mobile devices – smartphones, tablets and other computing “surfaces;” and draw data from telecom networks being built out to handle YouTube, Netflix and Instagram.  Whether they should replace shoe leather goes without saying.

While easy and seemingly inexpensive, sneakernet is resource intensive for both patient and provider. The patient must obtain the images from where they were generated, transport them, and then hope that the receiving facility can read the discs. Images are valueless, if they cannot be read by the referred institution, an uncertainty amplified by the number of facilities to which the patient is referred as the time between facilities raises the risk of losing or damaging the storage media.

As we approach another HIMSS, sneakernets clearly have run their course. Image transfer through RHIOs or IHEs is beyond reach. Zero footprint technologies are at hand, but not widely applied. Their adoption depends on demonstrating the degree to which they can efficiently exchange data, and whether their use can help increase revenue and control costs.

HIMSS 2014: Proposed Medicare Imaging Rule May Boost Need for Clinical Decision Support Software

Dave Fornell, editor, Imaging Technology News (ITN) and Diagnostic and Interventional Cardiology (DAIC)

Dave Fornell, editor, Imaging Technology News (ITN) and Diagnostic and Interventional Cardiology (DAIC)

As an editor for two medical technology magazines, I am always on the lookout for the next big trend in radiology or cardiology. This is especially true when legislation prompts action. This year at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) annual meeting in late February, I will be on the search for new software to help physicians meet appropriate use criteria guidelines in medical imaging.

Stage 2 meaningful use guidelines for electronic medical records (EMRs) suggest use of clinical decision support (CDS) software to help clinicians choose appropriate labs, diagnoses, therapies and imaging exams. A draft policy to replace the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula being considered by the a joint U.S. Senate Finance and House Committee on Ways and Means Committee might make this suggestion a requirement in the future. The draft policy would deny Medicare payment for the exam if the ordering physician did not consult appropriateness criteria and require prior authorization for outlier providers whose ordering is inconsistent with that of their peers.

The American College of Radiology (ACR) applauded the proposal in early November.  “This landmark step by Congress is a validation of a cornerstone of the College’s Imaging 3.0 initiative that increases quality of imaging care and preserves healthcare resources,” said Paul Ellenbogen, M.D., FACR, chair, ACR Board of Chancellors. “We strongly urge Congress to follow this approach which helps medicine transition from volume-based to quality-based care without interfering in the doctor-patient relationship.”HIMSS14

The policy draft would require the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to specify appropriateness criteria from among those developed/endorsed by national professional medical specialty societies. The secretary must also identify mechanisms, such as clinical decision support (CDS) tools, by which ordering professionals could consult these appropriate use criteria (AUC) CDS systems in Minnesota and at Massachusetts General Hospital have been shown to cut down on duplicate and/or unnecessary scanning and their associated costs.

Studies show that imaging exams reduce unnecessary hospital admissions, shorten length of stay and are directly linked to greater life expectancy.  ACR said Medicare imaging use and imaging costs are down significantly, the same levels as it was in 2003, and that imaging is the slowest growing of all physician services among the privately insured. ACR contends the use of appropriateness criteria can help streamline the ordering of these services.

If this policy is enacted, and it appears to be that it would be a no-brainer decision to help cut the staggering costs of Medicare, I predict it will result in a rapid explosion in and adoption of new CDS systems.

This software is not yet widely offered by PACS, CVIS or EMR vendors because it is difficult to keep up-to-date with the latest data from multiple societies, clinical trials and studies regarding all specialties. To stay current, vendors will have to issue a large number of updates each year, including rapid software revisions each time societies update their AUC. For this reason, AUC/CDS software might be best managed as a Web/cloud-based application, which makes regular software updates much easier.

It will be interesting to see what CDS solutions vendors introduce at HIMSS and other conferences throughout 2014.

Dave Fornell is an editor for Imaging Technology News (ITN) and Diagnostic and Interventional Cardiology (DAIC).

ACR’s Teleradiology White Paper and What it Means for the Industry

The ACR white paper about best practices in teleradiology that was published in 2013 has been a popular discussion topic over the past several months. David Willcutts, CEO of ONRAD, a radiology services provider based in California that offers flexible, custom radiology service solutions that can include teleradiology, on-site coverage, subspecialty reports and turnkey quality assurance programs, spoke with us about the teleradiology white paper and what he sees as being the most important points.

Willcutts explained that the focus is on important issues related to radiology as a whole, and that these are not exactly unique to teleradiology. A company such as ONRAD has trained radiologists on staff, and it is vital for them to maintain and manage items such as having the right licensure, efficient around time, complying regulations, etc. He stated that as the radiology industry evolves, the two monickers are going to blend and the only way to support clients is to focus on being the best radiologists possible.

In the end, it is all about one core issue – how do radiologists best take care of the patients? The interview with Willcutts can be viewed in its entirety below.

Why User Groups Are Necessary for Technology End-Users

By Jim Travitz, Senior Imaging Analyst, Trinity Health, Holy Cross Hospital, and President, Carestream VIBE User Group

When becoming an end-user of a particular piece of technology, one way to ensure you are able to get the most out of that technology is to join a user group, if the company has set one up. By joining a user group, customers are essentially creating a line of communication between not only themselves and the company, but with like-minded customers like themselves as well—and that is where some of the most important benefits exist.

Collaboration is the name of the game when it comes to user groups. The ultimate goal is for customers to discuss issues and solutions among each other, allowing the company to chime in when necessary. As an example, I am currently the president of Carestream’s VIBE User Group for its HCIS products, and am currently corralling more Carestream customers to join the group because of the benefits it offers. In addition to learning about the latest PACS, RIS, and other HCIS updates, there are several other initiatives in the works for VIBE:

How-to guides for users: We want users to have knowledge and informational materials available at their fingertips when joining the group. This is made possible by creating channels for users to reach out to one another, as well as Carestream delivering on providing the information we need to learn about its technologies.

Bring clarity to the user group:  As a group, we have the ability to decide what are the most important ideas/issues that need to be addressed. Collaborating to decide this is able to give Carestream a better idea on how to develop its products so it can meet our needs. Being from diverse organizations, we are going to have different needs we want addressed, so it becomes up to the group to deliberate on what the most universal needs are that can be focused on.

Sharing content: The best source of content in a user group tends to be the users themselves. Coming across an article or research, and then sharing it with the group is one of the best resources available. The best user groups are those that are the most educated and participate often, so by sharing content, users are contributing to improving the education of the group.

Education from Carestream about new features: If users are to experience the benefits from Carestream’s technologies, then education will be needed on its part to educate users about new features. Be it in the form of webinars, demo videos, or downloadable guides, education about these features is a must, and one the company is looking forward to providing.

Regarding the future of VIBE, I am currently working to fill a couple positions in the user group. I am looking for a PACS Knowledge Manager and a RIS Knowledge Manager. These two positions will be tasked with organizing all of the content that is shared among the PACS and RIS sections of the group, and ensuring that this information is accessible for all members.

Additionally, I recently attended RSNA in December and was able to talk with other members of VIBE about what they are looking from joining the group. The two biggest needs users are looking for from the group are consistent user collaboration and webinars from current VIBE members. With these features being put into place, it is our plan than as VIBE evolves, so will the members of the group. That will be the most beneficial end-game for all of those involved.

If you are a Carestream HCIS user and are interested in joining the VIBE user group, you can click the link to sign up.

Below is an interview I conducted at RSNA about VIBE, what changes are currently taking place in the user group, and what improvements users can expect in the future.

Why Multi-Media Reporting is a Necessity in Today’s Medical Imaging Industry

Cristine Kao

Cristine Kao, Global Marketing Manager, Healthcare IT, Carestream

When we say “multi-media reporting,” we are talking about the inclusion of information beyond words and numbers—images and even videos that can better tell the full story of a patient’s medical imaging history. As stated before, reporting and data is now a necessity in the radiology world, and this data is needed not only by the radiologist, but also referring physicians and patients too.

The radiology report is the working tool for the referring physician. That is why this vital tool is critical for imaging and for overall patient care. A more robust reporting platform can lead to two important factors:

  1. More information for physicians to make better decisions
  2. Easier to understand information so patients can be more involved in their own healthcare

These ideas are not exactly anything new, but they have yet to be put into widespread practice throughout the medical imaging industry. The ultimate goal is to reduce errors and improve productivity of the radiologist. This can be accomplished by automatically including the measurements and data from various modalities. One example of this would be with a lesion management application. The radiologist uses the app to measure a lesion, and instead of just including the measurements in the VueReporting report, now the images with the specific measurements can be included so physicians have access to the entire story behind the patient. In addition to the quantitative measurements, graphs can also be included in the report, providing an easier to read method of showing either the increase or decrease in size of the lesion.

Context will also play a key role in reporting. With so much information present, radiologists and physicians may need to see additional information than what is presented. A feature such as contextually aware bookmarks—such as clicking on a graph and seeing the data, images, and annotations behind the graph—allows for easier, more efficient navigation throughout the report. In the end, multi-media content has the ability to aid clinicians in treatment planning because it enhances the data present in the report.

To demonstrate this, Carestream is sponsoring a Clinical Innovation + Technology webinar on Thursday, February 13th, at 2pm EST titled, “A Better Way to Follow Oncology Patients:  Optimizing IT to Link Physicians and Facilitate Care Decisions at NIH.” The webinar will demonstrate how leading radiologists and oncologists at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are using technology such as semi-automated cancer lesion management and multi-media reporting software to reliably, consistently and quickly distribute reports in oncology follow up and treatment planning. This is leading to more effective communication, clinical insight and confidence among physicians in longitudinally tracking lesions with more quantitative and structured reports—and better communication with patients as well.

Five Ideas the Medical Imaging World Will Be Implementing in 2014

Carestream CMO

Norman Yung, Chief Marketing Officer, Carestream

A new year means it is time to turn a new leaf. However, in the medical imaging world, this leaf may not be as new as we think. In 2013, many trends, topics, and ideas became part of the industry’s vernacular: multidisciplinary teams, big data, tomosynthesis, etc. While these trends gained traction through highly publicized research, 2014 will be the year of implementation.

Last year marked the time when certain trends were shown to have benefits, and this year will be the time when these ideas are put into practice among a larger portion of the industry. The following five trends are what we expect to see implemented widely throughout 2014, and we will be looking forward to measured results, analyses, successes throughout the year and into 2015.

Multidisciplinary Teams: This has proven to be a major benefit for healthcare organizations across the world, and a necessity for those working in radiology who want to emerge from the darkness. In a post from 2013, Dr. Marc Zins, Department of Radiology, Hôpital Saint-Joseph, explained the numerous benefits his multidisciplinary team provided: The quality of the communication throughout the department improved immensely, the department became better organized and have implemented new processes and protocols that have improved efficiency, it has become easier to sustain quality time, and better communicate metrics to members across the team. If radiologists want a more prominent role within their organizations, then forming and joining multidisciplinary teams is a must.

Tomosynthesis: This was a popular topic at RSNA 2013. There was a great deal of research presented that demonstrated the benefits of tomosynthesis and how it can improve diagnoses. We conducted a study in collaboration with the University of North Carolina School of Medicine that showed the feasibility of a stationary chest tomosynthesis system, and how it had the ability to improve image quality and enhance detection of small lung nodules and other chest pathology. Additional research presented at RSNA 2013 showed that the degree of visibility vastly improved using tomosythnesis, a higher percentage of the cancers were more definitively characterized as masses compared to asymmetries when using tomosynthesis for diagnosis, and when compared to conventional radiology, tomosynthesis allowed for increased cancer detectability upon screening. This was because of its improved visibility and the precise morphology of cancers allow for a better lesion diagnostics in initial imaging. It’s being proven over and over how beneficial 3D imaging can be, and look for more healthcare facilities to put this technology in place in 2014.

Reporting/Data: The idea about providing better reporting and data collection for radiologists is that it leads to better decision making and improves the patient’s understanding of their images. The implementation of better reporting tools would influence much of the decision making being done by radiology departments today. Data is becoming more and more valuable, and when it is brought into the decision-making process, it results in clearer, more appropriate actions being made that benefit the patient, department, and healthcare organization as a whole. Reporting software has the ability to reduce errors, improve productivity with automatic inclusion of data from modalities, embed clinically rich insight such as key images and multi-media content, quantitative analysis, or lesion management graphs into the final report. With these capabilities, the radiologist has access to a wealth of vital information that can be used for improved diagnoses.

Article courtesy of The Wall Street Journal: http://on.wsj.com/1gAT5oy

Article courtesy of The Wall Street Journal: http://on.wsj.com/1gAT5oy

Image Storage & Access: According to Frost & Sullivan, the amount of storage volume needed to house medical images has more than tripled since 2005, and it is projected to double in the next five years. A statistic like this is quite daunting. Data is everywhere. It is being created and consumed at exponential rates, and it is the job of healthcare facilities to properly store the images, and simultaneously ensure that they are accessible for the appropriate people. Security of these images is a necessity because of HIPPA regulations.  The ease of access is becoming even more of a necessity as not only medical professionals need these images and data, but more often patients are demanding access to their images too.

Patient Engagement: This topic has been a hot item for the past couple of years due to the prominence of EHRs, but now radiology is becoming invested in this arena. Medical images are becoming a more important component of the EHR, and the portals are serving as the access point for patients to view and share these images. In a study we conducted with IDR Medical in 2013,we found that 79% of patients would be more likely to return to a facility that offers online image portal and 76% indicated they would recommend the facility to others. In the end, 83% of those surveyed said that they would use a patient portal to access and share their medical images—a sign that this is a need that healthcare organizations should be providing.

These are not the only trends that will be popular in 2014, but are certainly among the most prominent. This year is going to be a year of action. We have passed the testing phase and now must move into implementation if the benefits of newer technologies are to be realized. It is going to be another exciting year for healthcare and medical imaging.

Meaningful Use, VNAs, and Addressing the Challenges Each Present

Meaningful Use (MU) Stage 2 has been a challenge for many healthcare facilities throughout the U.S., but that appears to be especially true for private practice radiologists. Industry statistics show that radiology adoption for MU is still low, and Cristine Kao, global marketing director for HCIS, Carestream, explains that this is an opportunity for education on what Stage 2 adoption means, especially for the private practices.

In addition to MU Stage 2 challenges, Marianne Matthews, chief editor for Imaging Economics, and Kao also dive into the use of vendor neutral archives (VNAs) in hospitals, and provide advice around implementation strategies. The discussion revolves around reducing costs for the hospital, while also being able to improve workflow, from storing the information to providing efficient and secure access.