This article by Ambra Health CEO, Morris Panner, was originally published in Forbes on September 8, 2020.
Change is hard, which is why many healthcare organizations and facilities continue using outdated methods and technologies. Overhauling computer systems, equipment, software platforms and other technology can be a challenging, expensive and time-consuming process, especially in a large facility like a hospital.
This very fear of change or reluctance to adopt, especially when it comes to the push toward a cloud infrastructure, has a hefty price tag in terms of time lost and money wasted.
CDs Cause Problems For Patients And Administrators
One of the most obvious places where many medical facilities seem to still be stuck in the Dark Ages (by which I mean the late 1990s) is in the radiology departments, where CDs continue to be a dominant technology.
Most laptops and personal computers no longer include standard CD drives because the prevalence of wireless internet and solid-state hard drives has made them all but obsolete. Even as most people got used to emailing files or sharing them through networks or the cloud, facilities have continued to hand patients their medical images on disks they may not even be able to view for lack of a disk drive.
But the CDs aren’t just inconvenient for patients. Administrative personnel at healthcare facilities waste huge amounts of time on CD uploading and burning, taking away from more pressing tasks. There is also the high cost of employing couriers to carry these disks to other facilities or to patients who are too sick to pick them up personally. This situation has even led to a Twitter campaign (#DitchTheDisk) among medical professionals who believe it is way past due to start using 21st-century technology that better serves everyone.
Major Health Systems Discover Benefits Of Embracing The Cloud
Cincinnati Children’s, a nonprofit academic medical center, switched to a cloud-based platform to get away from CDs. The center was receiving over 30,000 outside imaging studies each year, burning many CDs a day at a cost of $10 per CD. It was spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on courier costs alone. Now, it shares and receives images online and finds that using the cloud reduces a load of redundant imaging.
My company, Ambra Health, found that healthcare facilities waste more than 84 days per year on CD upload, burning and patient data matching. Errors are common when burning or labeling CDs. That’s why 74% of the administrators we surveyed believe CDs’ demise will help improve job satisfaction.
The Indiana University Health system, which is composed of 19 hospitals, transitioned from a CD-based system to a proprietary cloud system and experienced a lifesaving scenario with its newfound ability for near-instant image transfers. As this case study reveals, one of the most vital benefits is that the hospitals can provide trauma patients with better, faster care as a result of being able to send and receive important images quickly while not having to do as many rescans.
Empowering Patients With Access To Their Health Information
Adopting new technologies like these can also go a long way toward meeting the growing patient demand for access to personal health records. According to one study, nearly half (47%) of respondents want online access to their health records. Cloud-based platforms enable medical facilities to create patient portals that provide access to information and images.
These portals can also empower patients to get more involved in and assertive about their healthcare decisions. For example, another customer of ours, Barrow Neurological Institute, built a second opinion service, making it simple for patients to upload reports and images as a part of a request for a consultation. Out of 1,000 second opinion consultations that were held, 190 new corrective surgical procedures were performed at Barrow.
Overcoming The Fear Of Change
Successfully installing sharing technology, platforms and portals will require getting buy-in from decision makers at the top of the organization because there will be cost and effort for implementation. There must also be a process for educating professionals (such as physicians and administrators) on how to use new platforms. Patients, too, need to be made aware of how to access and use patient portals — and why they’ll love them once they start using them.
A little pushback on all fronts should be expected because, indeed, change can be hard. But enlightening each party on how they can benefit — whether it’s because of cost-effectiveness, creating efficiencies, bettering the patient experience or improving patient care as described above — should help win the hearts and minds of everyone involved.