What’s Imaging Got to Do with EMRs?

Posted on January 13, 2014 I Written By

As Social Marketing Director at Billian, Jennifer Dennard is responsible for the continuing development and implementation of the company's social media strategies for Billian's HealthDATA and Porter Research. She is a regular contributor to a number of healthcare blogs and currently manages social marketing channels for the Health IT Leadership Summit and Technology Association of Georgia’s Health Society. You can find her on Twitter @JennDennard.

I’ll continue documenting my New Year’s resolution / Blue Button pledge journey next week so that this week I can share a recent interview I did with Yassin Sallam, National/International Sales Director at BRIT Systems. A Twitter encounter turned into a very interesting post-RSNA conversation about the evolving relationship between medical imaging and EMRs.

In our current world of increasing interoperability and patient engagement, how do medical imaging systems interact with today’s EMRs?
For several years, medical imaging systems have provided the ability to interact and launch from EMR portals. However, in many cases the set-up, maintenance and cost uplift requirements prohibits extension to the patient. At times, even simply extending access to trusted partners within a health system or medical community is cost prohibitive. Plus, IT organizations are concerned about the increased probability of security breaches when widely extending electronic access to patient information.

Today, medical images are readily accessible from EMRs via URL links. Different vendors implement different schemes for security, however, so the integration can still be time consuming and expensive.

The industry has certainly recognized room for improvement, namely via patient portals. In my experience, portals consistently make the list of top-five priorities a healthcare CIO seeks to address. The emphasis is often on scheduling, appointment confirmation, lab results, and radiology reports. Technology available today allows for cost effective, efficient and meaningful image enabling platforms.

What role do (and will) imaging systems play in HIEs?
There are approximately 217 HIE networks in the US, and they range in maturity and list of priorities. Image access is an inevitable value-add for these health networks. Whether a provider is looking to reduce cost, or a patient’s exposure to radiation; transfer a patient from one surgical team to another; provide access to a second opinion; expedite therapeutic decisions to shorten the length of stay; or better manage population demands, the availability of medical imaging is an important factor. Platform infrastructure and industry standards can achieve functional, cost effective interoperable imaging systems.

Creating image access and enabling interoperability with EMRs and other hospital IT systems is the foundation of browser-based solutions. BRIT Systems hopes to add to the momentum of representing images at the forefront of patient records with our interoperable solutions.

I’m intrigued by the article you sent me regarding the Radiolopolis Radiology Network. When I think of social networking in healthcare, radiology isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Why do you think social networking can be a vital part of today’s community of radiology practitioners?
Radiologists work under the pressure of producing quick turnaround, high quality, concise and accurate reports based on what they see in images. The quality of the report may be perceived to rely solely on the words of the radiologist. Consideration should be given to the holistic workflow, which includes: the procedure ordered, at times by the referring physician with no consultation of a radiologist; equipment utilized; skill level of the technologist operating the equipment; quality of the hardware used by the radiologist to view the images; and THEN the words of the radiologist.

Radiologists practice in a wide range of environments. Most do not have the support of specialists or peer consultation accessible in the short timeframe needed to meet service-level agreements. Social media is an outlet, when configured by Radiolopolis, for purposes of a practicing radiologist, that can assist in higher confidence reporting.

Also, we’ve all seen those beautiful ultrasound baby pictures. They give a whole new meaning to baby’s first picture. Who wouldn’t want to share those friends and family?