Improving Medical Imaging Workflow and Collaboration


Learn why almost half of health system CIOs would like to improve imaging workflow and clinical collaboration—and discover how medical imaging solutions can help.

Value-based care, which ties quality and other metrics to reimbursement, is reshaping healthcare. For radiology departments, the challenge is complicated by the inherent limits of imaging technologies. PACS was created to increase volume—not manage other metrics. Radiology needs new IT solutions for medical imaging to help drive quality, improve outcomes and patient satisfaction, and reduce costs.

Change Healthcare surveyed CIO members of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) to identify their top concerns. The results? Two-fifths of CIOs said their imaging IT solutions needed systemwide improvements to make it easier to distribute, view, and manage images.

The CIOs reported that improving workflow and collaboration was their primary concern, and the #1 driver that might get them to invest in IT solutions. Why does workflow and collaboration matter so much? Let’s take a look.

Improved Imaging Workflow Elevates Clinician Collaboration

Doctors and other providers need to share information to ensure each caregiver has a complete picture of the patient. For radiology, this means medical image sharing across departments, a key component of quality workflows. Physicians equipped with a complete picture of the patient’s health can make the most informed decision possible when developing a treatment plan.

Critical results of diagnostic tests and images are chief among the types of information that need to be shared. It’s so important that specific turnaround times have been set to accomplish this. National patient safety goals specify a 15-minute timeframe for a critical test or radiology result to reach the nursing unit; 15 minutes for the nurse to contact the physician; and 30 minutes from this contact until the time the physician delivers an action plan.

The right radiology workflow can make these tight timeframes possible. When a radiologist marks imaging results as critical at the time of interpretation, an intelligent imaging workflow can send an automated urgent or semi-urgent alert to the referring providers. Such IT solutions help the radiologists maintain an uninterrupted workflow, while ensuring that referring physicians get their results quickly.

Change Healthcare recently implemented an automated radiology workflow solution like this for one customer, reducing the client’s average turnaround time for communicating critical results to 10 minutes, down from 17 minutes. When the entire communication timeframe is only 30 minutes long, saving 7 minutes is a big accomplishment.

Adjusting Imaging Workflow to Deliver Added Value

Peer review is another example of an established quality workflow that’s evolved to reflect a value-based care environment.

For most organizations, peer review is a process of random care assignments, which meets Joint Commission requirements. However, there are now automated solutions that can transform peer review into actual peer learning.

In collaboration with Change Healthcare, Alberta Health Services in Canada has implemented a workflow solution that standardizes an anonymous peer review process.

Since implementation in 2015, Alberta Health Services has performed more than 90,000 technologist reviews and 26,000 radiologist reviews. They used this data to identify areas in which there are consistent challenges, and then provide education to address the issues.

This sophisticated combination of collaboration, workflow improvement, and targeted training can have a direct impact on patients. One anonymous peer review at Alberta Health Services resulted in an early cancer diagnosis, which had been previously missed. The patient was treated for cancer within days because of the addition of anonymous peer review into the workflow.

Survey: CIOs Want Enhanced Imaging Workflow and Better Collaboration

Accurate medical diagnoses impact lives, and improving imaging workflow—as well as collaboration across departments and sites—can directly contribute to effectively diagnosing patients.

Nearly half of surveyed CIOs say their imaging IT solutions could be easier to use as providers distribute, view, and manage images. Improving imaging workflow and collaboration can have a significant impact on value-based metrics, patients’ lives, and the bottom line.

Explore how sophisticated workflow solutions can optimize imaging systems in the whitepaper, How Intelligent Workflow can Alleviate CIO’s Top 4 Concerns.

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