BY STEVE SEAGER BS, RT
Imaging Services Manager, Central Ohio Primary Care
Central Ohio Primary Care (COPC) is the second largest physician-owned primary care medical group in the United States, with an alliance of more than 230 physicians in practices throughout central Ohio. COPC includes pediatricians, family physicians, internists, endocrinologists, infectious disease specialists, physical medicine physicians and hospitalists.
At a time when business expansion was critical to keep pace with steadily increasing study volumes, faster reading and the convenience of web-based accessibility to radiology studies was mandatory. COPC’s existing PACS and RIS could not keep up with the demands of the practice. COPC needed technology that would support its growth plan and improve workflow processes to enable maximum efficiency for its physicians and support staff. COPC engaged in an extensive evaluation of available PACS and RIS. Presentations were made by four PACS vendors and based on these capabilities presentations and a cost comparison, the selection was narrowed down to Novarad. A site visit was made to a facility in Louisville, KY to see the systems in use. After the site visit, the decision was made to move forward with contracting with Novarad for the PACS and RIS products.
COPC selected and installed Novarad’s NovaPACS and NovaRIS. These systems were selected because they met the requirements of providing faster access to images, the flexibility to integrate with existing systems, dependability of 99.99 percent uptime and were affordable. The ability to allow users to specify independent settings for reading preferences was also important to the radiologists.
COPC was able to install the systems across its network at one time without incurring large upfront fees. Novarad offers its systems through a subscription model using the annual image load to set pricing, in contrast to a capital purchase model that requires a significant upfront outlay. Everything is included – software, hardware, training, integration services, support and all software and hardware are updated at no additional cost.
The intuitive interface of NovaPACS made radiologist training very easy, and radiologists were using the system the same day it was installed with no downtime.
Since NovaPACS and NovaRIS were installed, COPC has experienced overall growth of 60 percent. This tremendous growth has taken place without having to add the staff support that would normally accompany this type of expansion. The cost savings gained by not having to add staff has further increased the ROI. COPC has since added an additional facility and nine more modalities – now operating three facilities and 18 modalities. Evening and weekend hours are available at one of the facilities, which offer CT, MRI and x-rays. An additional six company physician offices are performing computerized radiography in-office and sending to NovaPACS for interpretation.
With more than 5,000 procedures each month, the ability to view images and information online, anytime, any place, has been invaluable to COPC physicians. The connectivity of NovaPACS to radiologists’ workstations off-site at hospitals has increased productivity and patient-care time significantly.
Installing a RIS across the facility network has nearly eliminated telephone calls between staff members, which in turn created a calmer, quieter and more efficient atmosphere for staff and for patients.
The flexibility of NovaPACS’ open architecture enables it to seamlessly integrate with COPC’s existing information systems. COPC has never had a piece of equipment that could not be connected to the PACS. NovaPACS easily connects to local hospitals’ PACS for transmitting and receiving images. This enables COPC to provide superior patient care – repeated procedures and CD-Rom requests from hospitals have been eliminated due to the ability to access shared image data through the PACS.
Additional intangible benefits COPC has realized include:
o Report turnaround time has been reduced significantly
o Improved radiologist efficiency
o Improved image quality
o Time and cost savings in retrieving previous films from on and off-site storage facilities
With impressive growth and success since the installation of NovaPACS and NovaRIS, COPC is currently integrating the PACS and RIS with its Electronic Health Record (EHR) product. This will allow COPC to pass orders directly from EHR to the RIS, send billing back to the practice management system and reports to the physicians. The reports will also contain a link to the NovaPACS web viewer that will allow the physicians to review the actual images with a single click of the mouse. This consolidation would result in a continual live feed process making the most current information available to aid in
scheduling and billing processes.
COPC anticipates another year of unprecedented growth. With Novarad’s PACS and RIS systems, COPC is prepared to meet these demands. Radiologists are able to read images in digital format quicker and because they can securely access images over the web, patients are receiving the benefit of faster diagnostics.