Full Speed Ahead
Image professionals from across the country come together for the 2014 IT Imaging Informatics Summit
Radiology and technology go together so often in health care that they could be considered the peanut butter and jelly of medicine.
Despite this connection, the relationship between the two subjects can be complicated. With technological advances steaming ahead, questions about privacy, usability, and efficient sharing of data arise. In October 2014, radiologists and other imaging professionals came together to debate some of those questions and learn about the latest advances in informatics technology.
Making the Right Decision
Clinical decision support (CDS) was on nearly everyone's mind at the summit. Following Congress' approval of the SGR patch in April 2014, many radiologists were curious about how CDS would be implemented into referring physicians' practices, and what CDS adoption meant for radiology. Joshua Cooper, senior director
of government relations, kicked off the discussion by explaining how the CDS mandate made its way into the SGR patch and outlining ACR's vital role in ensuring the legislation passed. For more information on ACR and the SGR bill, read http://bitly.com/ACR-SGR.
CDS vendors also weighed in on the subject. Bob C. Cooke, marketing and strategy head of the National Decision Support Company, the team behind ACR Select™, noted past problems facing CDS, including a lack of physician buy-in and the slow progress made with CDS interoperability. John C. DeLong, vice president of Medicalis, also explained how radiologists fit into the CDS picture, noting that "CDS is not an IT project but a clinical transformation project supported by IT." DeLong said that implementing CDS must be driven by radiologists and other physicians, who understand the features CDS would need to be successful — such as speed and successful integration into a referring physician's workflow.
Streamlining Your Practice
Value was unsurprisingly another hot topic. Attendees were interested in how harnessing IT could make imaging more valuable for patients and referring physicians. Alexander J. Towbin, MD, discussed the concept of a value stream (the sequence of activities required to design, produce, and provide specific goods or services).He emphasized that radiologists often focus on only
certain segments of the patient's interaction with radiology, sometimes neglecting other, equally important events in the sequence. Common areas of focus include patient check-in, the imaging exam, the exam interpretation, and the delivery of results. However, Towbin emphasized that radiology's value stream also encompasses the referring clinician's ordering process, patient preparations (such as protocoling and scheduling), and billing.
For each of these often-neglected steps, Towbin outlined ways in which radiologists can add value and boost efficiency. For instance, in order to make patient preparation more efficient, Towbin suggested that, in addition to protocoling in the RIS, radiologists should promote electronic scheduling for patients. Aside from the reality that patients expect this convenience from their providers, radiology practices also stand to benefit as they save staff time and gain the ability to communicate with patients electronically.
Sharing Patient Data
One of the most exciting sessions at the Informatics Summit was a presentation on real-world image sharing, which featured panelists from across the health care spectrum, including Steven Posnack, MS, MHS, director of the Office of Standards and Technology in the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), and patient advocate Nick Dawson, president of the Society for Participatory Medicine. The panelists discussed a variety of issues, including barriers to operability among vendors and the frustration that can occur because certain hospitals refuse to share patient data. David S. Hirschorn, MD, the moderator of the panel, commented, "It's a shame that institutions say they won't share data because sharing data won't help them. But sharing data certainly helps the patients."
Attendees were also interested in learning what patients thought about the process from taking the image to receiving a diagnosis, particularly patient needs when it comes to image sharing. Dawson noted that patients were primarily interested in receiving information promptly and easily so they could act quickly. He commented, "When you're injured, your biggest concern is not why or how you got injured, but what's wrong and what you can do to fix it."
By Meghan Edwards, copywriter for the ACR Bulletin, and Lyndsee Cordes, managing editor of the ACR Bulletin