This article was originally published on Diagnostic Imaging on May 17, 2021.
Physicians operating in the women’s health space often face a unique challenge – the care of two patients at the same time. When selecting a physician as their care provider, pregnant women listed a wide variety of factors influencing their decision in a survey conducted by the Advisory Board. Among these were cost (the physician being in-network was a critical factor for many women), on-demand care (urgent care clinics, expanded hours, and advanced practitioner availability), and the quality of the delivery centers with many women listing top-rated NICU facilities and private room availability as key factors.
A happy experience for mom and baby often leads to repeat customers with more than 56 percent of women returning to the same practice that delivered their first child, according to the same survey. This is a unique opportunity for a facility to build a care relationship with a woman, her child, and even extended family that could last a lifetime.
Medical imaging plays a critical role in care of mom and baby. Imaging can range from routine ultrasounds to MRIs, to complex fetal imaging. Additionally, a woman’s journey to pregnancy may involve ultrasounds during fertility treatments, interventional radiology procedures like uterine fibroid embolization, radiotherapy and cryoablation for endometriosis, and many more. And across women’s health, as a whole, imaging has played a tremendous role in cancer prevention through routine mammography.
Rapid access to imaging and a history of priors is often necessary for physicians to provide the most rapid-time-to care delivery for a patient. The same access to imaging is critical for patients, as well, who may want to see their first photo of their child, seek a medical second opinion, or simply have ownership over their own healthcare data and act as the leader in their healthcare journey.
Picture this scenario. A patient arrives for a consultation regarding their own health or that of an unborn child. Your staff is unable to upload the imaging off the CD they have brought or access it from the other facility. Your staff must now call the referring physician or imaging center to mail a CD, and if they are unreachable, new imaging will have to be taken. The patient is frustrated, and so are you.
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Now, picture a different scenario, you send the patient a secure link over the web where they can upload their imaging from home ahead of the appointment. Cloud image management vendors support medical image uploads and transfers from a variety of inputs. Admissions or check-in staff can upload a patient’s prior medical images from CDs with an easy-to-use one-click CD uploader tool so that studies are available even before the patient is roomed. Web upload and transfers can be used for ad-hoc patient referrals. And for facilities that frequently share imaging back and forth, a lightweight piece of software called a gateway can be set-up to ingest imaging from DICOM modalities and PACS, as well as RIS via HL7.
Many patients are already keeping track of things online. While some of the data, such as lab reports, visit summaries, bills, and vaccination records are easily transferred in written forms, medical imaging often remains an enormous challenge to share.
Facilities can offer an image-enabled patient portal or imaging portal where a patient can access, view, and even download their imaging giving them the ultimate control over their own healthcare data. This is in line with the provisions outlined by the 21st Century Cures Act which mandates that patients should be given open access to healthcare data.
Fortunately, many pregnancies are routine. and parents are looking for quick access to those happy first ultrasound images. Ambra’s unique MFM Image Sharing workflow allows you to securely share via your existing imaging solution and offer patients a quick user-friendly viewing experience and gets rid of unnecessary printing. The steps are simple, once the HL7 with email address and study are both in Ambra, a viewing link will automatically be sent to the patient. The viewing link will display the selected images as jpegs. The patient can view images and download individually or as .zip. Once downloaded, patients can share via email, text, etc.
The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in a new welcoming of telehealth that is here to stay. However, many facilities have been using the power of telehealth for years to improve patient outcomes. For example, in rural Georgia Women’s Telehealth, an Atlanta based maternal fetal medicine practice offers 100 percent virtual consults to areas where women have less access to healthcare. The patient is able to go to their local obstetrician’s office and the MFM provider will join in via virtual consult. The results have been tremendous with pre-term birth rates going down by 50 percent.
A happy patient is one who has access to their imaging, care providers, and critical information at a moment’s notice. Offer your patients enhanced digital access to achieve these goals and create a positive care experience.