Written by Tim Smith, Iroquois Memorial Hospital Interim Chief Information Officer
Iroquois Memorial Hospital, a community hospital located in Watseka, Ill., embarked on initiative earlier this year to replace a number of its legacy radiology technologies. This initiative, named ‘Nova Project,’ was kicked off because its radiologists and referring physicians required improved functionality that existing systems could not deliver.
The most significant barrier with the existing PACS system was that it had very limited capability for the essential functionality of archiving and displaying images. While improved functionality was a top priority for the clinic side, the hospital board would not approve a change unless a financial savings could be demonstrated. A switch could not be an expense.
Switching to Novarad systems proved to deliver both the functionality and the financial savings required. The voice recognition (VR) capability with the PACS enabled the hospital to eliminate all transcription costs. The anticipated savings from the VR and dictation product alone delivered the ROI that convinced the board to make the investment.
Return on investment Savings from making the switch were instantaneous. With the new PACS, sending reports out for transcription was eliminated. Radiologists also like using the VR to navigate the PACS, activate features, or help make annotations and/or notes. Then create, sign and distribute reports from the PACS with just one click.
The predicted savings from this one feature is anticipated to deliver an annual savings of nearly $80,000.
The systems have been live for less than six months; cost decreases and workflow process improvements are consistently being realized. Most notably report turnaround time. What used to take at minimum 24 hours now takes just 30 minutes. After the radiologist dictates a report the report is automatically distributed.
Impacts and Improvements Across the Enterprise
Access and Speed
Immediately, access improvements were apparent to radiologists, referring physicians and other medical staff. On average, 21,000 images are read each year by the hospital’s radiologists and its network of referring physicians.
Replacing the legacy PACS with NovaPACS removed a number of access obstacles. Now, only a single login to a single website is required to deploy images. The time it takes for images to be displayed for reading has significantly decreased.
Functionally has improved as well. Fewer keystrokes are needed, as tools on radiologist viewers are mouse driven. Because the NovaPACS interface is user friendly the need to create workarounds has been eliminated.
The additional functionality of the system did require that the hospital change from having IS/IT responsible for maintaining the PACS system to hiring “real” PACS administrators along with an increased amount of time required for maintaining the systems. However, the required investment in an additional administrative commitment is far outweighed by the benefits from a reading and reporting perspective.
A View Into the Health of the Hospital
In addition to NovaPACS, Novarad’s NovaDash was also installed. NovaDash, part of Novarad’s Diagnostic Suite, is a graphical dashboard that transforms static data from the EHR, HIS, radiology information system (RIS) and PACS into visual business intelligence.
Key performance indicators can be determined and monitored in real-time enabling business decisions to be made more quickly to improve the fiscal health of the hospital.
The dashboard reports are used regularly during board meetings to demonstrate the process and performance improvements being delivered from Nova Project.