Private Practice: People Power, PACS Power

This article was featured in Imaging Economics and can be seen here

Patients calling Park Avenue Radiologists in New York City to schedule exams are prompted to visit the practice’s Web site, which provides a form that patients can complete to request an appointment. Here they are asked for some demographic and other information–such as the type of exam needed or their availability for a follow-up phone call.

Marc Liebeskind, MD, radiologist and owner of Park Avenue Radiologists, said that the above scenario allows patients to schedule their exams months in advance, while enabling his scheduling staff to capture vital information–such as the proper spelling of a patient’s name, their insurance information, and their day and time preference for an exam.

While NovaRIS from Novarad allows his practice to receive exam request information directly from the practice’s Web site, Liebeskind believes the human interaction by his staff provides them with better control over the practice’s schedule. Instead, that information is sent to an e-mail distribution list, which includes him and members of his scheduling staff. Upon receipt of that information, someone in scheduling will contact the patient to set up their appointment.

“The end result is our phone isn’t clogged. And you get a lot of data when they submit the form on our site,” he said, noting that patients have varying degrees of tolerance for working through phone trees.

Having accurate data helps to address the challenge of getting paid in a timely manner in a managed care environment–that of charge capture. “You really want that first claim approved. [Capturing that data correctly at the beginning] reinforces the integrity of data on the incoming side,” he said.

With his practice up and running on NovaPACS and NovaRIS since May 2010, Liebeskind is pleased to have a unified solution with a single vendor, which works best for his practice since the vendor is “fully responsible.” Acknowledging that he “pulled no punches” in his requests of Novarad during the sales process, he peppered the company with questions about reporting, interfaces, IHE compliance, meaningful use implications, product roadmap, and database architecture. Another key determinant for him was that the vendor’s RIS and PACS were “fully integrated.”

It is his experience working with a radiology information system (since 1999) and a PACS (since 2001) that informed Liebeskind’s discerning perspective when he sought out a new partner that could provide him with a fully integrated system for his practice. “We operate as a RIS-driven facility,” he said. Therefore, what matters most to his practice is providing follow-up, avoiding chart duplication, managing the number of people who work with a patient during their visit, managing the patient experience, and submitting accurate claims to insurance companies.

More than 6 months after the implementation, Liebeskind notes that Novarad successfully migrated 19 terabytes of data from his practice’s previous PACS into the current PACS system. He is a genuine advocate for a PACS viewer that is similar across referring physicians and radiologists–a viewer that enables a radiologist during a phone consultation with a referring physician to walk through their interpretation. With a unified user interface, said Liebeskind, you don’t have situations where a referring physician “can’t get to this series” or “can’t see the labeling.” This is important, he insists, because he projects that, over the next 5 to 10 years, more and more PACS users will be referring physicians.

–A. Cryts

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