It’s never been easier to share information, thanks to tweets, text messages, blogs, social media and email, to name a few. Thankfully, that ease of connectivity is finally available in the healthcare community, between physicians, hospitals, clinics and other healthcare systems.
In the recent past, the culture of physician offices, hospitals, imaging centers and clinic information systems have been very insular, with minimal capability for file sharing. There were also concerns for upholding patient data privacy and security as mandated by HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).
Thankfully, it’s now relatively easy to share information like digital imaging files through cloud-based platforms or networks. And the reality is, there’s been an enormous increase in medical images due to an aging populations, new imaging technologies and an increase in the size of data studies.
What are the benefits of medical image sharing?
- Digital medical imaging files can be shared quickly and easily among healthcare providers and departments.
- The ability to access and view images from other providers can reduce duplicative imaging and decrease the number of times a patient is exposed to radiation
- It’s easier to track patient progress through treatment and evaluating the effective of a treatment strategy.
- Under the Affordable Care Act, there is a fixed amount established to keep patients healthy. Providers are encouraged to reduce duplicative imaging as a cost containment measure.
- Mergers and acquisitions often occur in healthcare organizations. By being able to share digital imaging files through disparate PACS systems, IT departments don’t have to revamp existing imaging infrastructures.
- Many patients are now signing up for more affordable health plans and higher deductibles. It’s easier for patients to “shop” for quality and affordability by being able to share images between health care providers.
- When physicians can share medical images, they can build better and deeper referral networks, which can mean increased volumes.
The importance of IT Departments
It’s common for different departments within a healthcare organization to have different imaging repositories. However, it makes sense to have a larger and smarter repository, rather than a flurry of individual ones. After all, it makes storage and retrieval easier and more focused. To do so, three things must happen:
• Images need to be able to connect to the central EMR so imaging can be integrated locally.
• Ideally, all images (i.e. lab results, pathology results, digital medical images from MRI, CT, C-Arm, X-Ray, Mammography and other diagnostic imaging systems) should be able to be shared through the same application.
• The multiple medical image networks themselves should be able to “talk” to one another, not unlike how Verizon network users can talk to Sprint network users.
For the time being, the cloud seems to be the best image sharing solution. After all, it’s extremely flexible in an ever-changing technological environment. It enables storing, archiving, sharing and accessing images more efficiently and cost effectively.
IT departments and professionals should be engaged in all planning regarding medical imaging exchange—especially if considering an investment in a new software platform. At the very least, they need to make imaging and non-imaging data available across the boundaries of their institutions network, not just among operations that participate in a VNA. That means having a network that can perform properly, with high bandwidth and appropriate security.
If you would like more information please contact Atlantis Worldwide. Contact Jeff Weiss at 212-366-9100 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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Meet the author: Vikki Harmonay