Take charge of photos captured in your Emergency Department

It’s just another busy night in the Emergency Department (ED) and your staff is capturing visual images of a head injury on a smartphone to share with a physician. What’s your protocol for this? Have you taken charge of how you capture, store and report on images on mobile devices in your ED?

Images captured in the ED can help accelerate diagnosis and the delivery of care. Plus, these images can add significant value to a patient’s medical record, especially when viewed alongside CT, MRI or other diagnostic images.

However, multiple challenges exist when it comes to managing information captured on mobile devices. For example, while smartphones and tablets provide a convenient way for clinicians to access email, electronic health records (EHRs) and other systems while on the go, staff members also use them to surf the web and browse social media accounts, which can potentially expose your healthcare delivery organization (HDO) to unwanted protected health information (PHI) leaks.

Therefore, it’s important that images captured on mobile devices are properly indexed, secured and controlled just like any other medical record information. ED images and video must be automatically associated with patient identifiers, linked with other systems and become part of the legal medical record within the HDO.

Are you repeating the mistakes of the past?

HDOs are under tremendous pressure to provide high-quality care with fewer and fewer resources, so using a personal device to capture an image or video to support diagnosis is common. Stand-alone solutions for these functions can be extremely problematic because they don’t always provide the enterprise interoperability to get the photo or video image to the right person, in the right format at the right time.

To complicate matters, the HDO may be devoid of a comprehensive enterprise imaging strategy that allows them to address these functions on an enterprise-wide basis. Certainly, more departments within the HDO besides EDs may have need for visual image and video capture and for collaborating on this content as part of a legal medical record process.

Unless the ED and the HDO have a method for properly capturing, indexing, storing, sharing and securing images captured on mobile devices, there is no real way to know how this content is being used and managed.

HDOs need an enterprise imaging strategy

A mobile visual image and video capture strategy should be not only be addressed by the ED, the entire HDO should be involved to ensure the strategy meets the needs of not only the ED, but also all departments throughout the enterprise.

A mobile strategy that encompasses the needs of the enterprise must support the capture of media content including patient images, photos and video using smart devices. It should include the submission of this content as DICOM data to a wide variety of PACS or vendor neutral archive (VNA) systems. It should also support integration with the HDO’s EHR solution and be able to support interoperability through a standardized level of exchange functionality on an enterprise basis.

The mobile image strategy should also:

  1. Securely capture patient medical images and video and send this content to a PACS, VNA or the EHR solution
  2. Ensure that no patient data is saved to the device or the camera roll and ensure that content is encrypted at rest and throughout transmission
  3. Provide edit and annotation features for images and video directly on the mobile device
  4. Allow study descriptions to be customized to meet the needs of each department within an enterprise

Addressing the mobile image capture needs of the ED can provide a foundation for an enterprise process for the mobile capture of clinical information. By securely managing images captured on mobile devices, you can enhance clinical workflows, ensure PHI security, accelerate treatment and improve overall care quality.

Phil Wasson, FACHE, is a healthcare industry manager and consultant at Hyland. His mission is to develop content and create alignment with healthcare organizations focusing on information management and imaging solutions so healthcare organizations can realize more efficient operations that improve patient care. Phil joined Hyland after a three-year stint at Lexmark Healthcare as a consultant, and later as a healthcare industry manager. Phil has more than 25 years leading healthcare IT functions as a CIO and holds a fellowship in Healthcare Management with the American College of Healthcare Administrators. He received his B.S. in Healthcare Management from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, IL.
Phil Wasson

Phil Wasson

Phil Wasson, FACHE, is a healthcare industry manager and consultant at Hyland. His mission is to develop content and create alignment with healthcare organizations focusing on information management and imaging... read more about: Phil Wasson