Collaboration is Key to Enterprise-wide Imaging Success

Preschoolers first learn that it is OK to share their toys with others. As they mature, though, they learn that actually playing with the toys together is more fun. Similarly, healthcare organizations that are part of health information exchanges (HIEs), accountable care organizations or other integrated delivery systems are now discovering that they need to go beyond simply sharing images – and need to actually collaborate to develop enterprise-wide imaging strategies that can both improve patient care and their bottom line.
 
"Leaders at these organizations are recognizing that image communications, including moving information, not just viewing, has to be part of an image exchange and is the key missing component. The industry has not started talking about this part of the business problem," says George Robbie, vice president and general manager at GNAX Health, an Atlanta-based healthcare technology infrastructure and application delivery service provider. "But as image sharing evolves, the importance of collaboration will become more evident."
 
Indeed, new technologies, such as an enterprise-wide vendor neutral archive (VNA) and a universal viewer, are enabling some HIEs, ACOs and other large delivery systems to improve their image sharing capabilities, as well as offload some of the maintenance of so many different PACS applications.
 
But here's the rub: Simply implementing the technologies might not be enough for some organizations to see a marked improvement in patient care. They have to first ensure physicians are able to collaborate with each other and jointly use the new system to jump that hurdle.
 
Fortunately, some vendors have developed applications to enable such collaboration.
 
For example, the VNA from GNAX is integrated with a universal viewer and a secure DICOM image exchange. The combination is designed to index every study and its location, no matter where its origination. This in turn offers a universal identification that enables physicians to search for images by the patient name, even those that are being stored in a temporary queue and haven't yet been moved into the VNA.
 
It also enables images from different modalities -- and related text -- to be brought together into one view. As a result, physicians can share and collaborate on a single or multiple images in real-time, thereby reducing the need for an image to be retaken and decreasing the time spent trying to send images to other providers.
 
Further, after physicians have been authenticated and gained access to the images, they can manipulate them by zooming, panning in, marking it up and layering visual annotations on it. They also can add diagnostic summaries to the images.
 
Other physicians collaborating on the images also can see the manipulations in real-time. And they can do so on a large-screen desktop PC or a laptop or other mobile device.
 
This collaboration not only can accelerate the decision-making process, but increase productivity and improve patient care.
 
Additionally, the application not only facilitates improved workflow among physicians, but also consolidates the audit trails required for HIPAA privacy and security rule compliance. And because the VNA and image management system is offered via the cloud, it can greatly reduce administrative, network and maintenance costs for HIEs, ACOS or other large delivery systems.