by Tyler Harris, Vice President of Clinical Solutions, Novarad
Keeping ahead of what’s next in PACS was challenging enough, but radiologists now have an even greater challenge ahead. From both a clinical and IT perspective, the three top PACS trends that have reached critical status in vying for providers’ attention include:
- Intergrated and interoperable enterprise systems
- Socializing radiology/medicine
- Getting on the fast track to ROI
Integrated and interoperable enterprise systems
One of the most challenging issues in the PACS/RIS world today is the lack of unified standardization and archiving for the storage and retrieval of medical data.
Providers are responding with system development that focuses on interoperability, integrations, interfacing and migration, as well as the ability of a product to operate seamlessly with any other system out there. One of the factors driving this trend is providers being forced to do more in less time while trying to figure out how to give more individual attention to each patient. They are turning to technology to capture efficiencies, for example, being able to quickly or automatically see information from their choice of RIS and/or EMR or HIS while using a PACS from another vendor. In tandem, vendor neutral archives (VNA) are being moved to the forefront to mitigate access inefficiencies for data housed in multiple and siloed sources. These sources include document scans, master patient indexes and other information repositories that exist in disparate products. VNAs migrate all of these patient-centric data sources to make information available any time either onsite, offsite or in the cloud.
Social media and smartphones, iPads and other technologies have transformed how we socialize with our environment, our friends and our colleagues. If a thought pops into our head we Google it or we send a message to our Facebook family for answers. This instantaneous environment has also created the expectation for immediate responses in radiology and medicine. Radiologists are having real-time consults with referring physicians via the web, reports must be distributed automatically and instantly to the right location(s) via encrypted email, text, fax and other forms. Additionally, STAT reports must go out, be tracked and reported on when it was received, opened and closed. Radiologists are also conducting real-time consults with other radiologists through instant messaging and VoIP. Vendors that are incorporating these socializing features into their PACS system and other innovative diagnostic technologies will be the next great separator in the market.
Getting on the ROI fast track
There is no question that the overall prevailing ‘fear’ in the medical industry as a whole is related to finances. Everyone from the largest of large to the smallest single users are concerned with how they are going to tap into new revenue streams or at least maintain a health practice with less money coming in because of decreasing reimbursements. One of the strategies medical providers are taking is to use technology to bridge this gap. They are relying on affordable systems that, once originally designed for very specific niche, now must meet multiple needs. For instance, a radiology information system (RIS) is no longer sufficient to be just a RIS, it needs to be much more than a RIS, it needs to take on many attributes of an EMR/HIS. Additionally, hospitals, imaging centers and other facilities are seeking out solutions that make fiscal sense, for instance including data migration costs as part of the vendor neutral archive (VNA) package or having hardware and software upgrades included as part of the PACS contract. By choosing a vendor that includes equipment and services as part of the agreement, facilities can anticipate achieving an ROI in less than one year.
Originally published in RADMagazine, 39, 455, 32