Early detection is key when preventing the spread of cancers, yet many shy away from the medical procedures that would provide them with the necessary awareness to take action. In 2011, Ella Health was concerned with the underwhelming number of women getting their annual mammogram. They set out to improve the patient experience by using innovations in health technology. During National Health IT Week, DICOM Grid will be highlighting several different use cases where improvements in health technology lead to a reduced rate of redundant radiology exams, an improved patient experience, and lowers costs for patients and physicians alike.
Ella Health, established as a women’s health innovator in 2011, now has 8 facilities aimed at ensuring the most advanced breast cancer detection. Ella health found that over 50% of women who were eligible for an annual mammogram and had health insurance, still didn’t get an annual screening. They held several focus groups to discover why this was the case. Melissa Dyrdahl, CEO at Ella Health, sheds light on their findings, “Not surprisingly there is a great deal of fear and anxiety about the procedure. Women were also unhappy with facilities that are cold and clinical and staffed with insensitive technologists, difficulty scheduling a convenient appointment, and a long wait to get results.”
How was Ella Health going to make this frustrating and even intimidating process run smoothly? To start, they needed a framework to share exams between the OB-GYN, radiologists, and patients. In addition, having access to a patient’s past imaging exams was a necessity as tracking changes over time is critical in breast cancer detection. Unfortunately, many prior exams are still kept on CDs. Most children born after 1999 don’t even know what a CD is; yet here we are still shuffling critical medical information on them. CDs can get lost in the mail, break, or can even be incompatible with the facility’s current system. Ella Health needed a way to receive old exams on CDs, upload them into their system, and then link the information to the correct patient. Not to mention, all these images would need to be stored long-term as well. Future scalability at a low cost was a key concern to this growing organization.
DICOM Grid provides image sharing, archiving, and viewing capabilities. Using DICOM Grid’s, DG Suite, Ella Health has built a successful and seamless process around image management. When prior images arrive on CDs, DICOM Grid’s CD upload tool allows the priors to enter the system and automatically sync to patients’ records. Using DICOM Grid’s gateway technology, images are also automatically routed to who and where they need to go. Studies are sent to specific PACS, modalities, or viewing stations, based on user-defined parameters. Finally, using the Cloud for storage allows Ella Health to have a highly scalable back-up option and disaster recovery solutions.
However, the patient experience is still what remained core to Ella Health’s mission. DICOM Grid image enables Ella Health’s patient portal, allowing patients to take control of their own medical history and contact physicians at any point. Health innovations are enhancing collaboration among providers and patients everyday. How far do you think we’ve come in enhancing interoperability and how far do you think we have left to go?