By Jim Phillips on 05.25.2016
In today’s healthcare environment, it’s common for patients to receive care from more than one healthcare system. This can make it difficult for clinicians to access a patient's full imaging history. When they can view the complete medical history, within and outside of their network, it helps them deliver care faster and more efficiently.
The most desirable approach to image sharing is when the complete imaging history, regardless of where the studies were initially captured, are available in the EHR for immediate use during a patient encounter.
The Client Services team at lifeIMAGE is a proponent of this approach, for both the tremendous value it brings to clinical efficiency and care coordination, and the advantages it offers our customers during large-scale rollouts of our image exchange platform.
Benefits to clinical workflow and patient care
It’s hard to argue with the value of making external exams available to specialists in the EHR. When this data is readily available within the application they already use to coordinate care, it provides more context on the patient’s history. This information can help them make faster and possibly more effective care decisions, and may help prevent additional, unnecessary testing.
Specialists appreciate being able to access this information without having to launch an additional clinical application. It reduces their clicks, giving them a single, practical workflow for accessing both internal and external imaging. The local patient record becomes the central destination to access all parts of a patient’s imaging history.
Another important, but sometimes overlooked, benefit of linking external data to the local patient record is that any care provider with access to the EHR can see that study. Exams don’t have to be shared with specific users or groups. If it’s connected to the patient record, it’s shared. That means anyone who is working on a patient’s case has full access to all elements of their history.
Integrated rollouts create seamless workflows, support a broader user base
When implemented through the EHR, image exchange becomes an extension of existing clinical workflows across the enterprise. This simplifies the process of onboarding and training new clinical areas because the new functionality can be positioned as an offshoot of a familiar application. One really practical benefit: single sign-on integration gives every clinical user instant access to the platform.
A fringe benefit of deploying through the EHR is that it may set your radiology staff up to receive fewer PACS import requests. Because data is implicitly shared with anyone who has access to the patient chart, it only has to go to PACS if required by your organization’s policy.
Lastly, this approach can encourage a level of adoption that will have a meaningful impact on patient outcomes and the cost of care at your organization. This may help the radiology or IT teams to prove ROI sooner.
Unique patient safety features available with EHR integration
New this year, when integrated with the EHR, lifeIMAGE now provides advanced features that help our customers uphold a culture of patient safety at their institutions. The image exchange platform performs a proactive patient identity check when a new exam is uploaded or received. External data is compared against patient name, date of birth and gender data in the EHR, and the user is warned if the demographics do not completely match. Recognizing that warnings may not be enough, the system can be configured to completely stop an exam from entering the system if matching requirements are not met.
Administrators can define matching requirements and permissions on a group-by-group basis, which will determine how the system reacts when a demographics mismatch occurs. User audit reports allow administrators to review mismatch override activity.
Learn more about our integrated approach here.
Jim Philips is the Senior Vice President of Client Services at lifeIMAGE. He oversees all departments that support our rapidly growing customer base, as well as new initiatives that help to expand the reach, scalability and features of our network.