From the June 2016 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
By Rick Perez
Some of the greatest challenges in medical image management involve sharing patient data with affiliated and unaffiliated providers.
As a 590-bed, university-based teaching hospital on Long Island, Winthrop-University Hospital offers specialty treatment programs and serves patients within 60 miles of the hospital. Because of the regional patient base, we developed a process for importing imaging data from affiliated urgent care centers, orthopaedic clinics, physicians’ offices and other providers. We create a medical record number for patients in our network and link all imaging exams and other procedures to that number so physicians can see relevant clinical data for each patient.
However, we also care for thousands of non-network trauma patients annually. Since speed of assessment and treatment are extremely important, we make specific imaging studies available to authorized physicians from a cloud-based, image-sharing solution. We equip physicians to view these images and make preliminary diagnostic and treatment decisions so specialists and equipment are ready when the patient arrives.
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Our image-sharing methods are designed to avoid the use of CDs because importing the data cannot begin until the patient arrives and there are often delays (and glitches) in uploading images. We are working to develop an integrated image-sharing solution with non-network providers. Many patients have multiple doctors and their records are stored at different locations. Our goal is to create a system that allows our physicians to access a more comprehensive view of patient data when making treatment decisions.
Providing secure image access to both physicians and patients is also a top priority. Physicians can log into our VPN to view imaging studies and other patient records. A universal viewer enables physicians to quickly and easily review patient data on mobile devices as well as workstations. We also offer a secure patient portal that allows patients to view, download and share their records.
Asking insurance companies to participate in sharing patient data
I hope insurance companies (including private companies and Medicare/Medicaid) will join in efforts to expedite the sharing of patient data. They have records for all the procedures performed on each patient and could participate in a process designed to expedite access to prior lab results, imaging exams, reports and other procedure data.