Saint Francis taps new image viewer service, seeks broader access to X-rays, MRIs

Platform also addresses Stages 2 and 3 meaningful use because it gives patients an easy way to see their images.
By Anthony Vecchione
10:18 AM

As today’s physicians require remote, online access to patient X-rays, CT- scans, and MRIs, Saint Francis Medical Center in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, recently implemented Vue Motion, a universal image viewer from Carestream Health, to make the process easier.

Vue Motion utilizes Web-based technology to enable access from multiple platforms with no need to download additional software, according to Rochester, New York-based Carestream. It can be implemented as part of a Carestream suite and, because it's not tied to any one picture archiving and communication system, it can be integrated with a third-party PACS or DICOM archive.

Andrew Welker, PACS administrator at Saint Francis Medical Center, said that Vue Motion, an HTML5 image viewer, allows access to CTs, MRIs, ultrasounds using  a standard Web browser with no-plug ins necessary.

"What's different about this viewer is how easy it is to access," he said. "Before we had to have the viewer installed on the workstation, it required a pretty significant network connection for it to work."

[Also: PACS market saturated: HIMSS Analytics]

That ease-of-access externally is a big plus, he said.

"The physician from home has quicker access to the studies," said Welker. We don’t have to go out and install the viewer any more. We don’t have to worry if they're on Windows or Mac. It also works from iPads and Android tablets," said Welker.

Vue Motion is FDA-cleared for use on the Apple iPads, iPhones, Galaxy Note and Galaxy S mobile devices.

Industry experts point out that over the last several years PACS customers have been in the market for new products and features.

"It's evolved from clinical tools to important enterprise solutions, enterprise is the big theme," said Jeff Fleming, Carestream’s vice president of sales and service for Healthcare Information Solutions.

Fleming pointed out that due to merger and acquisitions activity that has occurred in the marketplace, multiple hospitals coming together with different systems need to address issues such as how to share data and consolidate support of that data.

In addition, individual hospitals are trying to bring in physician-groups such as accountable care organizations into their domain.

The new strategy, said Fleming, is also having an impact on determining who the decision-makers are.

In the early 2000s to mid-2000s the radiologists and cardiologists were the primary decision makers. While they are still major stakeholders, Fleming said that IT personnel along with CIOs and others who have more of an enterprise or view,are much more involved in the decision-making process.

While there is still a place for stand-alone applications, Fleming said that in order to have high adoption both by the clinical as well as ultimately the patient, there has to be a one-stop-shop.

Fleming said that Carestream sees the ideal way to attain "image enablement" is to have its viewer embedded into the electronic health record.

"We've done it with the major players Epic, Cerner and Allscripts," said Fleming. "If you're a referring physician, an orthopedic surgeon, or a patient and you have access to your chart, you can go in look at the images. You're in the same view and you don’t have to log out and input another pass code."

According to Fleming, the technology also addresses Stages 2 and 3 meaningful use because it speaks to the government requirements that are pushing for patients to have access to all the information, not just lab or nursing notes, but also imaging.

Saint Francis's Welker said that while the changing healthcare landscape is pushing physicians to utilize mobile devices, one of the problems they encounter is that not everything they want to do on the devices works.

For example, if PACS works on an iPad, but clinicians don't have access to the EMR on the same tablet – they have to use their desktop computer. Having access to all relevant data on one device is the goal, he said.

Carestream's Fleming said that adoption rate of mobile devices is high – 80 percent of primary care providers are using some type of smart device.

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From a government and FDA standpoint, however, the challenge, if it's a clinical tool, is that the devices have to go through the same rigors and testing as any other devices, he noted.

Welker said feedback on Vue Motion has been positive.

"Whenever you switch systems, some people just don't like change," he said. "One of the biggest positives is the amount of time we don't spend on maintenance. Our help desk likes it because they don't have to troubleshoot as often. That means less frustration for the physicians."

Twitter: @HealthITNews

Imaging, Mobile
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