Enterprise imaging streamlines workflows: MetroHealth shares 5 lessons learned

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Consolidating disparate imaging systems throughout a complex healthcare organization is a necessary yet challenging task. Bringing together key stakeholders and nurturing a collaborative culture are keys to success.

During a webinar sponsored by Hyland, two healthcare leaders discussed MetroHealth's journey to enterprise imaging. The speakers were: 

  • David Kaelber, MD, PhD, MPH, Chief Medical Informatics Officer, The MetroHealth System (Cleveland OH)
  • Todd Allman, Consultant, Hyland

Five key insights: 

  • Standardizing processes is critical to an enterprise imaging system. Imaging has become an interdisciplinary activity that is no longer reserved for radiology alone. As this has occurred, providers and departments have implemented their own disparate solutions. "We have stories of the gung-ho resident who purchases a plug-in for his smartphone to do ultrasound imaging in the Emergency Department," Dr. Kaelber said. "That's obviously not allowable, but as clinicians, we won't let anything stand in the way of providing what we consider to be high-quality patient care." Streamlining and standardizing all imaging systems to create a single source of truth is a key step to enterprise imaging.
  • All clinicians must be able to access all patient images all the time. When images reside in different departmental systems, it can be difficult if not impossible for a clinician to have access to a complete patient imaging profile. According to Dr. Kaelber, at MetroHealth, sometimes technicians printed an image and sometimes they did not. "Some images were just trapped on specific servers and software," he said. "We struggled to get that complete imaging view."
  • Patients are demanding complete access to their own imaging records. Providers frequently have an unfounded fear that allowing patients to see imaging records will result in chaos. "It is simply not true," Dr. Kaelber said. "However, there's a lot of fear that needs to be overcome in telling those in the healthcare system that, yes, we're going to share unadulterated images directly with patients. And, in general, they are going to love it."
  • Change may be slow but will happen under solid guiding principles. Most healthcare systems cannot afford to tear out multiple imaging systems to implement an enterprise imaging system in one single effort. Instead, Dr. Kaelber advises establishing guiding principles that help the organization navigate on its (often slow) journey toward the ultimate goal. "One of our guiding principles is that all images will reside in the vendor-neutral archive," he said. Change was facilitated at MetroHealth through establishment of an enterprise imaging steering committee and an enterprise imaging governance structure.
  • Successful healthcare organizations will get ahead of regulations that require patient access to imaging information. Although such regulation does not yet exist, industry experts expect this is the future direction and that providers must be prepared. "For instance, the 21st Century Cures Act was passed years ago and it's starting to be implemented now," Mr. Allman said. "Innovative healthcare organizations are already looking at this and saying, 'Where is this going?' They expect the end view is to share all information across systems with patients."

To view this discussion on-demand, click here.

To learn more about Hyland’s enterprise imaging solutions, visit Hyland.com.

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