Interoperability has been at the center of many of healthcare’s biggest advances in the past three decades. Radiology, in particular, has been at the forefront of the profession’s pursuit of a unified patient view, beginning with the development of Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) in the early 1990s.
Looking ahead, as patient coverage expands and the quality of care improves, the full transition toward interoperability in healthcare hinges in part on the success of enterprise-wide imaging, a movement to eliminate inefficient silos in radiology – and, ultimately, develop a unified patient view that gives the clinician access to everything he/she needs to provide high quality care in a timely fashion.
The following are three key benefits of enterprise imaging technology within the healthcare profession:
Improved Patient Care
The ultimate goal of enterprise imaging is to provide the clinician a complete view of the patient across the continuum of care. Whether the provider is a specialist, a primary care provider, or even a physical therapist or psychiatrist, a comprehensive view of the patient’s health and history is key to improving the quality of care.
By adopting and using a forward-leaning, cloud-based technology, radiology groups can eliminate the geographical and time-based challenges that previously prevented them from providing the highest quality of care at the right time in an efficient manner.
Providing physicians a complete view of the patient can lead to enhanced operational and clinical efficiencies. The use of a cloud-based system can not only improve patient care, but can eliminate redundant procedures and the need for patients to explain their condition or symptoms multiple times, thereby reducing visit times and administrative costs.
As technology progresses in healthcare, the ultimate goal is to generate interoperability between different silos of data information. In addition to eliminating those silos, we can work to bridge them and improve patient outcomes while enhancing practice and hospital efficiency.
In recent years, the federal government has released specific mandates regarding meaningful use—rewarding groups who have implemented various programs with payments and assigning fairly heavy fines to groups who did not.
The Protecting Access to Medicare Act (PAMA) of 2014 required all ordering professionals in the Medicare program to order advanced imaging studies utilizing clinical decision support (CDS) software based on appropriate use criteria (AUC) by January 1, 2017. This deadline has since been pushed to summer 2017, but essentially allows the federal government to ensure the right procedure is being done at the right time by the right physician.
While this initiative aims to reduce overutilization and costs while improving patient outcomes, it will be critical for physicians to prepare and comply with this legislation to avoid significant fines. Should the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare (CMS) find inappropriate use when collecting and tracking the CDS data, the offending physician will not be reimbursed. Groups utilizing a cloud-based Best in Class technology platform will be able to add this module much faster than those relying on single-vendor systems.
Enterprise imaging is the future of a truly interoperable healthcare system that connects providers, patients and payors across the continuum of care to ensure optimal results. Many of the changes within healthcare, from the new CMS legislation to the development of population health databases, are moving toward an outcomes-based reimbursement model that will require greater connectivity among key players within the profession.
Moving forward, radiology groups will have three options:
1. Be unable to comply with new legislation and risk substantial fines from CMS and other federal agencies;
2. Invest massive amounts of time, energy and capital to build their own system to comply; or
3. Adopt a cloud-based suite of Best in Class technologies that can not only be implemented quickly and cost-effectively, but is primed for the future
of enterprise imaging by being highly adaptable for future changes in technology.
This can be a daunting challenge for even the largest of organizations. A December 2015 study by the Constellation Group concluded the following regarding how organizations should acquire these emerging technologies: “Organizations must determine if they should buy a suite of products from a single vendor or piece together tools from multiple vendors in a ‘best-of-breed’ approach. While there are benefits and challenges to both options, Constellation believes that overall a suite approach, from a proven integrator, remains the correct decision for most organizations.”