The Clinical Advantage of a Cross-Enterprise Imaging Workflow

by Christopher M. Fleener, MD, Body/Abdominal Imaging Specialist & President, Advanced Medical Imaging Consultants

In reading rooms across the country each and every day, radiologists are faced with the possibility of having to interact with multiple health systems, sites of service and PACS.  Even within a single health system, there may be multiple PACS due to recent consolidation or other specialty reasons for having varied platforms. Whatever the reason, multiple PACS makes radiology’s workflow inefficient, leaving a group unable to effectively have subspecialty exams read by a subspecialist or leaving an individual radiologist logging in and out of multiple PACS throughout their workday.

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In 2013, Advanced Medical Imaging Consultants (AMIC) implemented a cross-enterprise imaging workflow solution allowing us to consolidate studies from nearly all of our sites of service into a single unified workflow. In doing so, we drastically changed the way our radiologists work. In fact, it has probably been the greatest efficiency gain we’ve seen in the past 10 years.  Depending on rotation, an individual radiologist can save up to an hour a day of logging in and out.

These gains came primarily from having a single system to log into to interpret all studies. No longer do we bounce between systems or get locked out of one while searching for a prior on another. Instead, we interpret almost every study using the same PACS viewer (which can handle tomosynthesis, advanced visualization and other specialized workflows), worklist, speech recognition tool and dictaphone. From a workflow standpoint, this has made a big difference.

In terms of its clinical impact, the efficiency gains reduce turnaround times, not just for STATs but all exams. In addition, having more of an uninterrupted workflow with access to more priors means that the radiologist’s focus can remain on the images.  It also helps for consultations with referring physicians, when they call to ask if a patient has a prior or where it is, we can quickly locate it with one search instead of having to hunt through various systems.

Having access to different healthcare systems’ archives from a single location can also be highly beneficial for the patient. The truth is and whether we like it or not, patients bounce around from one site to another for imaging. When a radiologist has access to multiple imaging archives in a single platform, it provides a more complete patient record. It informs us of clinical data that we wouldn’t have otherwise known and in the end, this can save patients time, money and/or radiation.

When we speak to administrators and non-radiologist healthcare providers about being added to our cross-enterprise workflow, they want it yesterday. It’s something that most statewide health information exchanges hope to someday achieve but so far cannot, whereas we can through our cross-enterprise imaging solution. Ultimately, it’s a more efficient and cost effective means of providing patient care as it relates to medical imaging, not only for radiologists, but also healthcare systems, ordering providers and patients.

This article originally appeared in the ebook Demystifying Cross-Enterprise Imaging: Industry Analysts & Thought Leaders Weigh In.