By Ken Congdon, content marketing manager, Hyland Healthcare.
Each year, Hyland Healthcare conducts focus groups with HIMSS members representing top healthcare provider organizations. The interactive, in-depth discussions always reveal powerful insights we can use to improve our solutions.
This year’s topic was enterprise imaging. We wanted to gain a better understanding of the drivers, strategies, challenges and desires healthcare leaders have in this area.
Healthcare evolution, innovation boost enterprise imaging demand
Consensus from the group seemed to indicate that the evolution of healthcare in general is driving the demand for enterprise imaging. For example, increased consolidation, partner collaboration and merger and acquisition activity are creating imaging environments that are complex and extremely difficult to manage. It becomes problematic, expensive and risky to attempt to manage and maintain multiple silos of imaging data throughout all of these locations.
“The acquisition of outpatient imaging centers combined with the disparate imaging silos we already have internally creates a lot of waste,” said Peter Overeem, CTO of Adventist Healthcare. “Several efficiencies can be gained by bringing all our images — both inpatient and outpatient — together into one consolidated system.”
Furthermore, it was agreed upon that PACS is a dated technology that is centered on radiology and cardiology, and likely not the best equipped to handle the centralized management of images throughout an enterprise.
“With the advancement of AI, we need to start adopting enterprise tools,” said Michael Knopp, MD, professor and director at Ohio State University. “We can’t maintain an environment where everyone has their own departmental solution. PACS vendors are focused on specific niches and are fairly slow to add new innovations that benefit the enterprise. The solutions you implement today need to be capable of adapting and innovating at a much faster pace.”
One-size does not always fit all
The demand for enterprise imaging tools was clear from the group. However, participants also communicated several challenges and roadblocks when it comes to implementing solutions that satisfy the needs of all the stakeholders involved.
“We can’t get the different imaging-centric departments to agree on one technology platform that meets everyone’s needs,” said Overeem. “What one person likes, another hates. We’re concerned about implementing an enterprise solution that causes some departments to settle for a less optimal solution for their specialty.”
The concerns around enterprise solutions being less specialized are mainly rooted in utilization. If the users in one department find a new enterprise system to be less effective or valuable for their specific area of expertise, then they might not embrace it, which could lead to a failed implementation.
While some focus group participants saw this roadblock as a matter of clinical preference, others placed the blame squarely on the vendor community.
“I have yet to find a viewer that meets the needs of both general clinicians and specialists like radiologists, cardiologists and pathologists. These stakeholders could care less about technical buzzwords like zero-footprint viewing or server-side rendering. They just want a viewer that works for them and works well,” said Richard Mohnk, VP and CIO at Bayhealth.
Enterprise imaging key to improving care, cutting costs
Challenges undoubtedly exist that still need to be overcome, but the group conceded that the value of enterprise imaging was worth the effort and headaches. The key enterprise imaging benefits communicated by participants fell into two main categories — clinical and economic/operational.
“There is tremendous clinical value in enterprise imaging,” said Mony Weschler, chief innovations officer at InnovaCare Health. “Images need to be compared across specialties. Clinical stakeholders need to have easy access to all images from a single viewer. It improves clinical workflows, decision-making and patient care.”
The economic and operational benefits of enterprise imaging includes streamlined infrastructure management as well as consolidated control of images outside of radiology and cardiology. In fact, some participants were able to cost-justify an enterprise imaging investment through the subsequent decommissioning of multiple PACS.
“There’s no value in maintaining multiple PACS,” said Weschler. “In fact, there’s danger in that. With enterprise imaging you can consolidate the cost of the imaging infrastructure. You can also provide a higher level of support to one system as opposed to 27. This enhanced level of support and the fact that you’re now feeding one system also helps improve data integrity. It makes it easier for you to keep your databases clean.”
Turns out, top minds think alike. And they all agree that enterprise imaging is the future of healthcare.