Enterprise imaging strategy demands good planning, says Ochsner Health expert

Delivering the right image at the right time to the right physician is the goal but that requires smart decisions about clinical workflow and IT infrastructure.
By Mike Miliard
03:27 PM
enterprise imaging

In addition to imaging enterprise education sessions during HIMSS18, there are demos and sessions on the showroom floor as well.

Like all health information technology rollouts worth doing, enterprise imaging projects should be led by clinicians, with their specific workflows top-of-mind. But of course "it's helpful when IT plays a strong, influential role and is engaged in it,” said Dawn Cram, IS director, enterprise imaging, at Ochsner Health System in Louisiana.

IT, given that it touches all corners of a health system, offers the ability to help smooth a process that could be overwhelming for a lot of folks, Cram added.

"You're talking about a very wide array of specialties, and a wide array of challenges that many people don't understand – even if you have years of imaging experience in a traditional environment, like radiology or cardiology, when you come out of that there are challenges in other specialties like dermatology or ophthalmology that are vastly different in scope."

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For that reason, successful enterprise imaging strategies start with setting realistic expectations and defining the specific organizational need, said Cram, who will present an educational session on the topic at HIMSS18 on March 8.

The must-have considerations for devising enterprise-wide imaging can vary widely and commonly include helping identify the right organization and workflow questions that can impact the direction the strategy takes, showing how a SWOT matrix can help with planning and comparing enterprise imaging strategies to help show how they can be tailored to a given organization.

Cram said an enterprise imaging strategy that incorporates all medical specialties should be a "foundational goal" – creating a holistic imaging record for the physicians, accessible wherever they need it: "The right image at the right time to the right physician, every time."

But that's no small task, of course, and success usually requires a multi-year approach. 

"With the vastly different workflows, trying to do it with a single go-live is not really a reasonable way of handling and launching an enterprise imaging program," Cram said. 

But the drive toward enterprise imaging, which is coming based on a couple of factors, can be be worth the effort. 

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"The consolidation of the electronic health record has created an environment where physicians are looking for everything in the same location, electronically, and oftentimes in most organizations today there are multiple applications that can or cannot be integrated with the EHR in order to see image – whether they're radiology or GI/scope video, arthroscopic surgery and the images that are captured in those procedures," Cram added. 

Security is another key motivator. "There's a lot of security gaps and concerns with centralization of information from a security perspective," she said. "When you have silos or systems that are sitting in closets and accumulating patient data, those are security risks. How images are captured, whether it's with a smartphone or an iPad, those are also concerns: Is video being stored in some external drive, or in some memory stick that gets run around that may be insecure?”

"These are all additional challenges that create an environment where a focus needs to start," she added. "Organizations need to begin looking at enterprise imaging and creating a strategy, developing a plan, for how they're going to address everything that's being captured today."

As mobile devices proliferate and value-based care puts a premium on efficiency, the ability to offer secure access to images in the right place at the right time will continue to grow in importance.

Cram is scheduled to speak at the HIMSS18 session "Developing an Enterprise Imaging Strategy," at 10 a.m. March 8 in Marcello 4405 at the Venetian Convention Center in Las Vegas.

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Twitter: @MikeMiliardHITN
Email the writer: mike.miliard@himssmedia.com