In New York City, I have noticed a trend over the past few years. More and more imaging centers seem to be merging into large mega-groups. I have certainly experienced some conveniences with this including increased time availability, greater location choice, access to priors, and a unified patient portal. However, the behind the scenes work that goes into creating a seamless patient facing experience is no small feat.
During a recent live webinar with Ambra Health and Health Data Management, Mark Filiault, Chief Information Officer, Connecticut Orthopaedic Specialists, discussed how a series of five mergers had led to five different radiology systems.
“We had to identify each platform and merge all the data together. In the end, it came down to a lot of work, but unifying the records has served our practice well,” said Mark. The workflow involved the unification of the EHR system, PACS, and local caching of images to create an instantaneous experience. Today, when a physician logs in to Ambra, they see their scheduled patients listed for that day as well as both current and prior imaging for those respective individuals. When the physicians click to view imaging, the Ambra Personal Accelerator provides an easy way to cache studies locally and automatically accelerates the viewing of medical images. The patient list provides direct access to the library of studies from the Ambra Cloud which greatly improves the operational efficiency for the providers who no longer have to search for prior studies.
“Our group is very happy about this innovation and appreciated the speed with which this feature was brought to market on our behalf,” shared Mark.
Once the imaging stack has been reevaluated and restructured, the question remains, how do these mergers affect patients? In New York City, I have had an overall positive experience, however, the impacts in rural regions could be quite different. A new study published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology found that smaller imaging practices and those in rural areas could have a much more difficult time attracting and retaining talent. Radiologists today are contending with numerous rules and regulations regarding value over volume, and a larger practice may have more resources to help alleviate burn out.
It will remain critical to watch how healthcare mergers impact different populations across the country and whether technology, like teleradiology, may come to play a role in alleviating patient care inequalities.