HealthManagement, Volume 21 - Issue 5, 2021

As demand for diagnostic imaging continues to increase, it is important for hospitals and radiology departments to trade in the imaging status quo of the isolated silo for a consolidated approach such as Enterprise Imaging.

Key Points

  • Hospitals today have to deal with an assortment of disparate, standalone systems that have different capabilities and functions and are often inefficient, fragmented and costly.
  •  Diagnostic and clinical users could benefit from a complete patient imaging system such as Enterprise Imaging. 
  • Economic, operational and clinical forces are pushing healthcare systems to switch from traditional imaging systems to a unified Enterprise Imaging ecosystem.
  • A converged Enterprise imaging approach offers several benefits, including reduced complexity, lower cost, increased efficiency, and enhanced care and satisfaction.

Imaging and Imaging IT are fundamental components of modern healthcare. Their increasing application and use for clinical diagnosis and treatment decisions have resulted in the use of a variety of systems and technologies across departments, specialties and healthcare facilities. That is why many hospitals today have to deal with an assortment of disparate, standalone systems that have different capabilities and functions and are often inefficient, fragmented and costly. Diagnostic and clinical users could benefit from a complete patient imaging record. However, in such a fragmented environment, this could be quite a challenge. But this challenge must be overcome if healthcare organisations want to trade in the imaging status quo of the individual, isolated silo for a consolidated approach. One such solution is Enterprise Imaging.

Why Do Imaging Systems Need to Change? 

Three primary forces are pushing healthcare providers to switch from traditional imaging systems to a unified Enterprise Imaging ecosystem. These include:

Economic Drivers
Buying, implementing, deploying, integrating and supporting multiple imaging systems across multiple departments is an inefficient and costly solution. The time and money spent on managing and updating these siloed systems and on duplicate storage could easily be put to better use by investing in more efficient and value-driven solutions.

Operational Drivers
When healthcare organisations use siloed systems, each system requires separate staff trained in its maintenance and interface. Again, the time and money spent on training staff on multiple user interfaces can be more efficiently utilised to develop skills that enhance patient care. Also, synchronising different systems with varied capabilities can be very difficult, and auditing can also be quite complex.

Clinical Drivers 
Physicians and clinicians are ultimately the ones who need patient imaging records. Switching from system to system to find, compare and diagnose images and then make treatment decisions based on those images can be time-consuming, cumbersome and extremely inefficient. The goal of an imaging record system should be to provide easier access to all images so that clinicians can focus on adding value rather than spending their time browsing through different systems. 

Advantages of Converged Image Management

Image management systems have one basic purpose: to acquire, store and display images. A consolidated system such as Enterprise Imaging converges image collection, storage, management and sharing. This is delivered through a scalable and centralised platform, reducing the technical complexity, IT footprint and cost of the imaging ecosystem while increasing efficiency. At the end of the day, the ultimate goal is to enhance physician satisfaction and patient care.
Here are a few advantages of a converged Enterprise Imaging approach:

Reduced complexity and total cost of ownership
Enterprise Imaging allows the use of lower-cost storage alternatives such as tiered or cloud models. It also optimises storage utilisation and eliminates duplicate storage. In addition, a centralised system is less costly and takes less time to manage and run. Security and data privacy is also much easier on a centralised platform, and data recovery is simpler and faster. Finally, Enterprise Imaging supports non-orders based workflows. Therefore, integrating these into the billing system and workflow improves the payment and reimbursement process.

Increased operational efficiency
Using a standardised approach for image capture, storage and quality across an enterprise increases the long-term value of these images and reduces the risk of duplicate exams. Also, Enterprise Imaging supports the latest industry standards, thus simplifying the integration of current and future applications. This not only makes the system more efficient, but it also reduces staff and training costs while optimising resources. 

Enhanced clinical care and satisfaction 
The Enterprise Imaging platform harmonises workflows and helps build a patient-centric approach to care delivery. It facilitates information sharing, multi-disciplinary cooperation and patient engagement and improves the overall experience of both staff and patients. Longitudinal patient imaging records also eliminate redundancies and enrich the strength and impact of multi-disciplinary teams. Enterprise Imaging also offers an intuitive and powerful viewer for image-enabling the EHR.

Building a Tailored and Robust Strategy with Enterprise Imaging 

While each hospital has its unique needs, Enterprise Imaging allows healthcare organisations to build a robust imaging strategy, step-by-step: 

Step 1: Converging radiology imaging ecosystem through PACs, advanced image processing, reporting, clinical applications, collaboration tools, analytics and more. 
Step 2: Converging cardiology imaging into a single system through the use of third-party solutions, thus optimising the use of services such as Cath lab, CT, MRI, ultrasound, nuclear medicine and ECG.
Step 3: Offering a consolidated platform with an enterprise-level VNA combined with a universal viewer providing care providers access to multimedia patient information they need, anywhere, anytime – including at the point of care.
Step 4: Driving imaging workflows of other departments and service lines, making them standardised and stored centrally in the VNA. 
Step 5: Allowing cross-enterprise imaging sharing within a hospital network and routing and sharing workflow support to better manage data.

Overall, Enterprise Imaging offers a new strategic pathway to hospitals. It can be applied based on the hospital’s immediate economic, technical, operational and clinical priorities and their objectives and current situation. Whether it’s overstressed IT resources, low clinical productivity, missed financial reimbursements, declining referrer loyalty or staff or patient dissatisfaction, Enterprise Imaging offers the path to achieve organisational goals smoothly and efficiently. 

At Agfa HealthCare, we support healthcare professionals across the globe to transform the delivery of care. Our focus is 100% on providing best-of-suite Imaging IT software solutions that enable secure, effective and sustainable imaging data management. From product development to implementation, our unified Enterprise Imaging Platform is purpose-built to reduce complexity, improve productivity and deliver clinical value. We use our proven track record as an innovator, our in-depth medical knowledge and our strategic guidance to help healthcare providers achieve their clinical, operational and business strategies. To enter a new era and elevate Imaging’s value with Enterprise Imaging,