Integrating your clinical imaging systems with your EHR can leverage the power of technology to connect your patients to a better continuum of care while reducing errors and increasing efficiency. Clinicians across the organization will have greater access to images, without the wasted time of a back and forth between their EHR and an imaging system. Achieving an integrated imaging environment will lead to a better connection between patients and doctors, ultimately improving quality of care.
If your organization has made the decision to migrate to an integrated imaging solution, here are a few best practices to keep in mind:
- Know what you have, and take advantage of existing solutions: The ability to take advantage of existing solutions and to coordinate the efforts with the Information Technology (IT) group is vital to successful integration with your EHR. Vendors and equipment are often considered a medical device, and in many cases organizations consider imaging solutions as a separate, stand-alone service. Stand-alone diagnostic imaging acquisition equipment and systems often exists and functions in silos without the benefits of enterprise-wide access to imaging data for interested providers, an archive solution for long-term storage (as per regulatory requirements), or a backup solution in the event of image data loss. This is most apparent in non-traditional imaging departments like Pathology, Oncology, ED, OB-GYN, Pain Management, Sleep Labs, etc. In conjunction with your IT department, review your existing systems to determine if there are options in your current environment that will support a successful integration.
- Approach imaging solutions as part of your organization’s strategic plan: Looking at Clinical Imaging as a key strategic differentiator and as part of the organization’s strategic plan can position your hospital to take advantage of mutual successes while leveraging existing infrastructure and combining costs for storage. Clinical Imaging should align with the overall Enterprise Vision and Goals of the healthcare system. This provides a significant benefit to your healthcare organization both financially and clinically.
- Save time with fewer clicks and hops: An integrated imaging environment enables clinicians across the spectrum of care from primary care to referring physicians to specialist the ability to view images from multiple departments in a single location, reducing time and inconvenience of toggling between imaging systems and the EHR.
- Increase consumer use of imaging: In today’s age of patient consumerism, an integrated imaging environment should also enable enhanced processes and controls that allow patients access to their imaging portfolio, wherever they may be.
Allowing departments to share images takes less time, removes the middle person, and allows for greater communication and accuracy.
Following these best practices is key to keeping your business current and profitable. Healthcare data is moving rapidly from paper and scanned documents to digital native data (including EHRs, images, lab results, patient-engagement and genetic data). Your organization should have an action plan to stay viable.