In Part I of this two-part blog, Mark Bronkalla described a series of challenging medical encounters involving his wife’s recent hip replacement. Throughout the ordeal it became clear, in a very personal way, that a comprehensive imaging strategy could have dramatically improved the experience and outcomes. Below, he delves into the tools and processes that could help others facing a similar situation. To read Part I, please click here.
Let me begin by acknowledging how fortunate we are that my wife’s hip replacement and revision surgeries were successful and that she is recovering. There were dozens of talented and hard-working medical professionals and technicians involved in her care and we are grateful for their expertise, diligence and compassion. That said, the experience has highlighted the need for, and importance of, enterprise imaging and universal image sharing in several ways:
So Long, CDs
Image sharing is a critical component of the referral process. While CDs are often employed to this end, they are an inefficient and insufficient tool that should be phased out of use. (We learned this the hard way, gathering CDs from multiple sites and then waiting for them to be uploaded to the new surgeon’s PACS). Being able to share, import and display images – and have them immediately available for comparison to new studies – is key. Better yet, we all need to be on board to provide cross-enterprise viewing without the need to physically transfer images.
Imaging as a Communication Tool
Imaging is an important communication tool. For the patient, there is a certain satisfaction in seeing
the problems and results that simply cannot be achieved through mere text or verbal discussion. While one could easily say that our case is unusual – with an X-ray tech and imaging product manager as the patient and family – I have also seen it used as an effective communication tool between surgeons and families that are not “imaging people.” Imaging providers should strive to collaborate across their organizations to provide enterprise viewing from the EMR, on mobile, and via patient portals. This kind of accessibility can have a powerful impact for patients and practices alike.
Embrace Mobile Options
Mobile device viewing, whether on phones or tablets, removes barriers to presentation and discussion. For many, this will be seen as a “friendlier” presentation, and for some, like my wife who could not physically get out of her hospital bed, it may be the only
When talking with clients about the use of mobile devices for image display within a hospital or clinic setting, the issue of “infection transmission and control” is sometimes raised as a reason not to image-enable mobile devices. However, over the last few years, my wife has had surgeries in three different hospitals that are part of three different integrated delivery networks (IDNs). In each case, cell phone or internal wireless phones were carried and used by staff and were answered or silenced in over 80 percent of visits by nurses, physician assistants, surgeons, hospitalists, OT, PT, etc. It’s time for us to admit that mobile devices are part of the workflow, apply appropriate infection control measures, and image enable them.
Mobile Image Capture
For visiting nurse staff, providing remote services and wound care is a core part of their work. Those interested in improving workflow and patient outcomes can start by engaging home health/visiting nurse teams to learn the ways in which image capture and review can help. There is no doubt that this technology would have made a tremendous impact in my wife’s latest case and in past surgical episodes as well. Wound care and infections seem to be an easy win in extending enterprise imaging reach.
While each of the tactics mentioned above have the potential to improve patient outcomes, one can’t help but imagine the impact that could have been made if they were combined as part of a true enterprise imaging strategy.
The pieces of the imaging puzzle exist. It’s time for us to put them together.
The many challenges covered in this two-part blog could have been readily addressed via iConnect® Access , iConnect Capture and ImageMoverMD. To learn more, contact us here.
To learn how an academic medical center, University of Miami Health System, gained control of imaging across the organization with Merge enterprise imaging solutions, read the case study.