By Kim Garriott
Clinical decisions are made every day based on visual content that is not documented within the electronic health record (EHR) or available to the patient’s care team. Digital photos and other clinically relevant images generated by medical and surgical scopes, point of care ultrasound, ophthalmic devices, and others are being produced at a record pace and serve as an integral part of the patient’s clinical history. It wouldn’t be acceptable to omit a lab result from the patient’s EHR, so why is it acceptable to omit images produced outside of the traditional confines of radiology and cardiology imaging? Indeed, many healthcare organizations are embracing the need to provide access to all clinically relevant images via the EHR.
The question regarding retention of these images is less about whether to do it or not – the more common question is “how do we begin?” The formation of an enterprise imaging program must start with a strong governance structure along with a thorough understanding of current and desired image related behaviors and workflows, technologies used, enterprise use cases, and a comprehensive strategy. The use cases and strategy should not only address the acquisition, retention, and visualization of the images, but also how those images will be exchanged and shared with outside entities, such as affiliate organizations, external physicians, and patients.
Special care needs to be paid when developing the workflows that clinicians will use to acquire and reference the images within the EHR. It is definitely not a one-size fits all workflow. An anesthesiologist will require a different acquisition workflow than an intensivist; an endocrinologist’s workflow will be different than a trauma physician. Well-designed, clinically centric workflows are key to a successful program.
The development of an enterprise imaging program is complicated, but you will not be the first to make this journey and there are lessons to be learned from those that went before you.
Want to learn more? Join Jef Williams, Managing Partner, Paragon Consulting Partners (formerly with Ascendian Healthcare Consulting) and I, on Tuesday, August 2, as we share lessons learned and best practices in our session, “Six Tenets to Enterprise Imaging Strategy” at the 2016 AHRA Annual Meeting. We will apply years of hands-on experience to help radiology leaders understand how to best guide and inform imaging initiatives within healthcare organizations to help them become leaders in the enterprise imaging space.
Kim Garriott is the principal consultant – healthcare strategies at Logicalis Healthcare Solutions in Indianapolis, IN. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.