As the only real operating HIE network in Florida, HIE Networks has been in the business of improving the way healthcare organizations share medical records and correspondence between healthcare offices for years. However, the network was not image-enabled, causing physicians at local practices to fax requests for imaging to imaging centers and hospitals. These images, then burned onto CDs, were delivered by a courier service or picked-up by the patient. The process could take days, wasting time, and frustrating physicians and patients alike. Today, HIE Networks has partnered with Ambra Health to image-enable the network – leading to half a million patient images now available instantaneously through the web.
With 1000 users able to access data in Tallahassee and over 750 users in the Bradenton area, Ambra has transformed the accessibility of medical imaging in the region. Leading providers like Manatee Memorial Hospital, Manatee Diagnostic Center, Lakewood Ranch Hospital, Radiology Associates of Venice & Englewood, Urology Partners of Bradenton, and Vascular Surgery Associates rely on HIE Networks, image-enabled by Ambra, to have instant access to patient imaging.
“To have such a strong number of users across disparate entities is really unusual in healthcare and shows the value of having an image-enabled HIE.”
– Zach Finn, Chief Operating Director of HIE Networks
For Dr. Philip Tally, a doctor and surgeon at Neurospinal Associates, the image-enablement of HIE Networks has allowed physicians at his practice to pull up all of a patient’s imaging that has been done across the network. Previously, a VPN was used to connect to local hospitals and was often very slow. Depending on a patient’s condition, he may suggest that they have different imaging exams at unique centers with certain specialties. Being able to unify these data sources is critical for patient care, particularly when his practice sees over 600 cases a year.
“Compared to VPN connections, we can pull up imaging twice as fast through the HIE.”
– Dr. Philip Tally, Surgeon, Neurospinal Associates
With Ambra, gateways can be installed on sites that frequently share imaging back and forth with one another. Prior to the image-enablement of HIE Networks, receiving patient imaging was a difficult process. For example, a patient was referred to Urology Partners after having a CT done at a local hospital. Urology Partners then had to fax a request for a CD, which was then sent over by courier service. Today, the staff can simply login to HIE Networks and pull the imaging down into their PACS, which prevents delays in patient care and provides much more productive appointments.
With imaging available instantaneously, care occurs in a much faster and efficient manner. Additionally, if a patient moves within the HIE network systems all of their information is still easily accessible, providing for a seamless transition of care.
Medical imaging has been strongly linked to a greater life expectancy, reduced cancer risk, and overall improved quality of life. Under the FDA’s recommendations and criteria established by Meaningful Use, it has been suggested that patients should have greater access to their own medical imaging to reduce duplicate procedures. By including patient imaging within the system, HIE Networks provides enhanced communication across networks, reducing the incidence of duplicate imaging.