Technology helps radiologists see more, be more



Few professions have experienced the dramatic changes that radiologists have over the past few years. Once considered a profit center, radiology services are now viewed as a cost center due to industry-wide efforts to reduce unnecessary and duplicative imaging tests. These efforts have also sparked a significant rise in the number of radiologists employed by health systems and a reduction in the number of independent radiology practices.

Beyond cost control, one of the primary goals of bringing radiology expertise in-house is to make radiology professionals a more entrenched and collaborative member of the care team. Historically, radiologists received medical images of a patient and recorded their findings on a radiology report they sent back to the requesting physician. There was little interaction between the physician and the radiologist, and the images themselves were ultimately stored in the radiology PACS where they were largely inaccessible to clinicians outside of the radiology department and not included as part of the patient record.

While the order-based workflow between referring physicians and radiologists has remained largely unchanged, there is a much different expectation today regarding what should occur after radiology medical images are captured. As always, health providers demand fast turnaround times and accurate image interpretations. However, now they also expect regular collaboration with the radiologist and accessibility to the images captured and stored as a result of their order.

As such, radiologists are being motivated to look beyond their own corner of the medical world and think more about the larger healthcare enterprise and the entire care continuum. Technology is a key way to address these new demands. For most radiologists, the best place to start is to take a long, hard look at your PACS.

Integrate a VNA with PACS to extend functionality

Picture archiving and communication systems continue to be, and likely will remain, the cornerstone of the radiology IT universe. However, as my colleague Sandra Lillie points out in her recent blog post, PACS technology has several limitations that prevent it from meeting many modern-day imaging needs on its own. For example, the technology is rife with proprietary code sets that prevent images from being easily exchanged between PACS systems from different vendors, let alone other hospital IT systems. Furthermore, PACS is designed to manage order-based DICOM images.

However, so much of imaging today takes place outside of this process – whether it be a point-of-care ultrasound performed during a patient encounter in the ED or any of the non-DICOM images captured in their native JPEG or TIFF formats in dermatology, gastroenterology, ophthalmology or any other image-intensive specialty department.

A truly universal and inclusive medical image archive needs to ingest and manage these non-DICOM assets. This can be an arduous and costly proposition if you confine yourself to working with the PACS alone. A better option is to look for ways to incorporate a vendor neutral archive (VNA) that can strip away proprietary code sets and allow radiologists to more easily ingest non-DICOM images and manage them side by side with DICOM assets. Vendor neutrality also allows images to be easily shared with other hospital systems and clinicians throughout the extended enterprise.

Enable image sharing and collaboration with universal viewing

Universal viewing is another technology that offers significant promise to the radiology community. With this tool, radiologists can easily put the images stored in their PACS at the fingertips of point-of-care clinicians throughout their enterprise for referential viewing. In most cases, users can access and view these images in context of the electronic medical record for optimal correlation and visibility. Many universal viewers also provide native collaboration tools that enable real-time interactions between radiologists and clinicians on selected image sets. This capability can help accelerate diagnosis and treatment while ensuring interpretation accuracy.

Finally, some universal viewing platforms provide an advanced visualization option that goes beyond simple referential viewing. These more sophisticated tools can provide radiologists with the ability to access diagnostic quality images anytime on any computer with an Internet connection and a high-resolution monitor. With this technology, radiologists can untether themselves from traditional PACS workstations and perform certain interpretative tasks from just about anywhere, increasing convenience and productivity.

See your whole patient at RSNA 18

Hyland Healthcare is showcasing several ways technology can be implemented to enhance the performance and role of the radiologist at the RSNA 2018 Annual Meeting this week in Chicago. Our show theme of SEE your whole patient illustrates how the right technology can help radiologists and the clinicians they serve gain more visibility into their patients’ overall health through consolidation and centralized access to all medical images associated with a patient.

If you’re attending RSNA, please stop by and see us at booth #1316 in the South Hall of McCormick Place. We also invite you to tune in to our Facebook Live broadcast on Tuesday November 27 at 1 p.m. CT. The event, titled Visualization and its impact on productivity, will feature Brian Bialecki from the American College of Radiology discussing how his organization is currently leveraging technologies like universal viewing to enhance collaboration and performance enterprise wide.

With more than 20 years of healthcare technology and leadership experience, Susan deCathelineau is Hyland's senior vice president and chief customer success officer. In prior roles, she has led health information management, revenue cycle, and electronic medical record initiatives and has transformed processes by building and leading successful cross-functional teams. Before joining Hyland, she was Director of Corporate Information Systems at Allina Health. There, Susan led an enterprise-wide implementation of Hyland’s OnBase content services solution and its integration with the Epic EMR. Prior to Allina Health, Susan was vice president of product management at QuadraMed. She managed the product launch strategy and go-to-market programs. Susan holds a bachelor’s degree in health information management from the College of St. Scholastica and completed her master’s degree in health services administration at the College of St. Francis.
Susan deCathelineau

Susan deCathelineau

With more than 20 years of healthcare technology and leadership experience, Susan deCathelineau is Hyland’s senior vice president and chief customer success officer. In prior roles, she has led health... read more about: Susan deCathelineau