With changing patient preferences, expanding provider networks, and tech titans like Google and Apple moving into the healthcare realm, 2018 is sure to bring an advanced pace to the digital transformation of the industry.
In a live webinar hosted by HIMSS, Ambra Health outlined 5 key imaging trends for 2018 with panelists Dr. Amy Kotsenas, Associate Professor of Radiology, Mayo Clinic, and Dr. Marc Kohli, Director of Clinical Informatics, UCSF.
Throughout the webinar, several poll questions were asked of the audience that highlighted a heightened awareness towards informatics, radiology operations, and a continued goal of improving patient care.
The majority of attendees cited meeting consumer demands and becoming more metrics-focused among their 2018 initiatives. We weren’t surprised to see a focus on meeting consumer demands as our recent survey of over 1,000 US adults showed that it still takes 44% of patients over a day to have imaging sent to a physician, and most of that transfer is still occurring through CDs. The 21st-century healthcare consumer is already comfortable with cloud and mobile technology, so it’s natural that they are making decisions based upon how well practices and hospitals are using these digital tools.
Dr. Kotsenas notes that at Mayo Clinic, “all images are available to patients through the image-enabled patient portal.” However, the patient portal has specific policies and safeguards which put an embargo on the images so that a referring provider can inform patients of any sensitive or complex findings.
Part of meeting consumer demands and achieving general image management goals is fine-tuning metrics. We’re seeing radiology informatics, the intersection of radiology and information/computer science, continue to rise as its own field. Radiology chairs and informatics directors are taking into account new measurements like turnaround time, capacity management, and workflow routing optimization.
“Radiologists really need to step out of the ready room and reach patients more closely,” Dr. Kohli.
At UCSF, Dr. Kohli highlighted the use of a patient satisfaction survey. In looking at their patient portal in depth, they improved report language to be more patient-facing and offered the name and contact information of the radiologist who read their exam.
Almost half of attendees are looking to improve their referral network through investments in new and improved technology. Even if a provider or facility has great outcomes, their practice may still suffer if they remain stuck in technology silos. If it’s just too painful to share imaging with the facility or it takes too long to receive data and imaging, it can become frustrating for referrers who may then take their patients and business elsewhere.
Dr. Kotsenas notes that Mayo Clinic works with referring physicians through an e-consult. Referring physicians can easily upload any imaging through the cloud (either through a CD uploader or gateway on frequent referring sites) and a subspecialty provider is assigned to review the data. Mayo Clinic can then provide a proposal for how Mayo Clinic can aide that patient or reassure patients that their local provider can provide the needed care.
Today, “almost half of our images come in through gateways with our referring providers” says Dr. Kostenas.
Dr. Kohli shared a new focus on radiology reporting. Many EHR vendors today offer a provider portal which allows physicians to access reports. However, administrators have shared with Dr. Kohli that even registering each user can take considerable time, let alone uploading reports. “There is a lot of informatics opportunities to improve these portals and appropriately assign administrators and physicians the right tasks,” says Dr. Kohli.
Attendees were fairly divided when it came to the cloud – some had taken a leap into the cloud and solved many initiatives with it, while others were still rolling out solutions. Many providers are looking to Vendor Neutral Archives (VNA) and the scalability of the cloud to create a centralized store for physician productivity and care. The centralization of data can also offer ripe opportunities for new revenue streams like second opinion portals and more. Dr. Kohli notes that they are looking at the cloud as an opportunity for affordable image storage.
Dr. Kotsenas notes that Mayo Clinic was an early adopter of vendor neutral archiving and, “we’ve got DICOM and non-DICOM imaging aggregated from all ologies together across the entire enterprise.” This allows any physician to access all images on any particular patient and interact with other providers for second opinions across the system as well.
Is your facility prepared to fast track to the future in 2018?