economy and healthcare reform are 2 of radiology’s biggest challenges.
continue to drop, the financials for many practices are flat, and there’s no
sure way to tell whether the health information
exchanges (HIEs) scheduled to begin in October will bring more lives into
the system. Add in the swiftly approaching demands of Meaningful
Use Stage 2, ICD-10, and other regulations, and many practices are looking
at soon spending a lot more money on technology.
these considerations in mind, Radiology Ltd. decided to implement a web-based
radiology information system (RIS) that streamlines workflow and enables our
referring providers to meet Meaningful
Use criteria, as well as a real-time picture archiving and communication
system (PACS) that stores and provides access to images from any web-based
location. By the end of October, we expect to go live with a system that will
enable our business to potentially connect to hundreds of thousands of
referring physicians without a single HL7 interface.
is said and done, we’ll be able to seamlessly deliver radiology reports and
share the images we create during a patients visit with referring physicians. With
this system, we will not only be able to create the reports but also be able to
embed within each report a link to the corresponding patient’s images and send
the entire package directly to the physician for immediate review on his/her own
electronic medical record (EMR) system.
Benefits for radiology practices and
environment like the one now impacting radiology, we expect this higher level
of interoperability to pay numerous dividends, both to us and to our referring
physicians. Consider this: for a practice with a referring base of 2,000
physicians, the cost of connecting 1,000 different EMR systems to a
bidirectional HL7 feed, in addition to paying for yearly maintenance, is largely
unsustainable. This new strategy gives practices like ours a way to ride
existing systems to meet Meaningful
Use standards at a price that’s reasonable and sustainable over the long
Referring physicians, meanwhile, need only upgrade their
own EMR systems to a version that supports the technology. In return, they get
to “live, eat and breathe” in their own EMR system without being forced to
shoulder the financial burden of installing all-new technology or
infrastructure. In addition, the system has a mechanism in place for faxing
reports to physicians whose offices are otherwise not yet set up for EMR
sharing. To accompany this solution, a portal is being developed that will be
able to offer these same services to physicians who still want access no matter
where they are at any given moment — at home, in the office or one of several
different hospitals. The more tools you have in your tool
belt, the better able you are to flex to meet the needs of all the physicians
Indeed, data sharing technologies and strategies like this
promise to be a game changer when it comes to working with electronic medical records.
Not only do they make report and image
exchange faster and easier for referring physicians and radiology providers,
they enable providers to meet the demands of Meaningful
Use and improve patient care in the process.
About the author
Ron Cornett is Director of
Information Technology at Radiology Ltd.