PACS Brings Time and Money Savings to Blanchard Valley Health Association
By Chris Swanson, Vice President, Clinical Services, Blanchard Valley Health Association, Ohio
Blanchard Valley Health Association (BVHA) is a comprehensive, state-of-the-art health system offering Northwest Ohio a full continuum of care. For acute-care radiology services, BVHA offers two main campuses, with locations in Findlay and Bluffton, Ohio, along with a free-standing imaging center. Blanchard Valley Regional Health Center's Findlay campus is the location of the flagship facility, with 150-beds, level 1 trauma status. Annually, the facility completes 100,000 imaging studies. BVHA runs a mixed Meditech environment, using Meditech ITS for Radiology, and PCI for electronic medical records, effectively providing clinical information and radiological images to desktops throughout the enterprise.
BVHA selected Amicas Vision Series PACS to propel the organization's transition from film-based radiology to PACS. The changes have been breathtaking, providing tangible returns to the association, BVHA providers and the patients in our community.
Nearly two years ago, BVHA developed a strategic plan which focused attention on improving the technology infrastructure of the institution. Some of the challenges we were facing as an organization included significant physician dissatisfaction with report turnaround and accessibility to radiology; increasing film expense with the advances in CT and MR imaging; diminishing space for film storage; lost films; poor service excellence scores and operational inefficiency.
When we initially pursued PACS, we had a solid, enthusiastic team complete with clinical, administrative, biomedical and technical champions, including Jill Feehan, our current PACS administrator and former lead technologist, and Angela Dougherty, our Meditech clinical analyst. We also chose to engage a nationally-recognized consultant to assist us with the comprehensive selection process. Partially through selection, BVHA experienced an event that would cause most departments to come to a screeching halt on projects of any size, let alone PACS: contract disputes with our six-member radiology group erupted and eventually resulted in their departure from our organization. Instead of burying our heads in the sand, we re-doubled our efforts, with full knowledge that the forthcoming PACS would be a key differentiator for ongoing recruitment. Indeed, just knowledge that the PACS was coming helped us retain two members of the former radiology group, who decided to return to BVHA and form a new radiology group.
Following a nine-month selection, we chose Amicas due to their proven Meditech expertise, and depth of product suite.
The clinical, workflow and financial improvements that have taken place at BVHA have been possible due to the strength of our team, the flexibility of the PACS, along with the Insight Services group at Amicas. The web-based architecture of Vision Series PACS has allowed our users, who were not PACS experts pre-PACS, to become astute on PACS very quickly. The simplicity and pervasiveness of the tools literally mean that any application can be recalled anywhere in the enterprise based upon user ID. All of the system configurations are implemented using a graphical user interface, which has enabled us to really push the capabilities of the PACS to every corner of BVHA. We've implemented an advanced SAN solution so all prior exams are on-line regardless of when they were imaged, electronic medical records integration are available for referring physicians in Meditech PCI, deployment of viewers has occurred in all major clinical areas such as the ED and ICU, and we've extended RealTime Worklist access to all staff members central to radiology workflow. This is significantly different than other worklists we evaluated, that were strictly purposed just for radiologists. To further enhance workflow, our lead technologists developed handbooks for business continuance in each department for real-world downtime events (e.g, down network, application unavailability). This has dramatically increased the confidence of our end-users, and has provided BVHA a great training tool as new staff members are brought on board.
Positive feedback, saving money
In addition to the clinical, workflow and financial improvements brought about, PACS also has boosted morale. Pre-PACS, our technologists and film file room staff used