Is your organization on the same page regarding clinical photographs?

As someone whose nursing practice began more than a few years ago, the phrase “shake it like a Polaroid picture” brings back more memories than just a catchy tune by OutKast. 

You see, back in the day, managing pictures captured by cameras, ultrasound machines and endoscopes in clinical settings was inadequate simply because there was no technology to support it. Frankly, even if better management tools had existed, image quality was often so poor and life spans so brief, there was no incentive to move beyond manila envelopes and paper clips.

Eventually, the quality and clarity of thermal printing and digital imaging improved. In the clinical space, the scanning of natural light images – from specialties like endoscopy, the emergency department and wound care – and saving them in document management systems became more common.

An improvement, sure, but lumping images of the patient amongst documents about the patient was still not ideal. 

The next phase: Supporting decision-making

Today we enter yet another phase of technology, where previously disconnected image capture hardware can be networked, and captured digital images have quality that truly supports the story of clinical decision-making.

Today, point-of-care images are taking a greater role in the clinical process. Meanwhile, increasing requirements for release of information, collaboration and extended life cycle management are already starting to accompany that shift.  

To keep up, health delivery organizations should stop treating point-of-care images like textual documents and start managing them like the clinically relevant images they are.

Questions to consider:

  • Is there consistency in how you manage, archive and view point-of-care images across specialties and facilities? 
  • Could you nimbly manage your cache of forensic images if your state legislates the maintenance of assault and abuse documentation of minors for 60 years past the age 18, or 20 years past the date of record for adults?
  • Can you provide deeper security and chain of custody for those and other sensitive images like plastics?
  • Do you have the appropriate back up and disaster recovery in place to ensure your risk management team can provide photographic documentation of wound progression for legal review if necessary?
  •  Do clinicians have the ability to view, compare and collaborate on images and across specialties and facilities with an enterprise viewer?

Enterprise imaging

Whether you’re an imaging expert, HIM professional or clinician, if any of the above are “things that make you go, hmmmmm …” perhaps there is more going on here than me dating myself with questionable song references. 

In fact, there is probably room for serious discussions about the enterprise-wide, non-radiology imaging occurring at your organization. Medical imaging content is critical to making informed clinical decisions, but it comes in numerous DICOM formats and native file types, making it difficult to manage and access.

That’s why it’s important to:

Want to know more about what other health delivery organizations are doing with their point-of-care images? Or how you can capture, view and manage yours, too? 

Getting your enterprise on the same page is the best way to improve access, decisions and patient care.

In the end, the Beatles said it best, because “I’ve got to admit it’s getting better. A little better all the time.”

Julie McDonald

Julie McDonald

Julie McDonald, RN, is a focused healthcare professional with a strong clinical, administrative and leadership background. Julie is passionate about utilizing her 25 years of industry knowledge to assist in creating and leveraging technology solutions that will improve the experience of clinicians and their patients as Hyland’s Healthcare Business Consultant. Her past nursing experience has been in both a large, urban university-based medical center as well as a moderate sized community hospital, with a focus on clinical excellence, mentorship, and education of both patients and colleagues. This has provided her with a broad perspective of healthcare organizations and the unique and not so unique challenges they experience. Julie’s experience in facilitating collaboration among professionals and leading a team collective for a superior quality-of-care experience in a stressful, emotion-driven environment has been invaluable to her role at Hyland. It has helped her to provide a more meaningful discussion about how clinical needs and technical capabilities can be synchronized to provide a superior clinician and patient experience in an environment that is rapidly changing and challenging both clinically and technically.

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