Savvy cardiology departments tap into CVIS to engineer cost-savings, streamline workflow and better patient care.
Cardiology departments across the United States are positioned at a precipice, staring at an array of challenges: an aging population, epidemics of obesity and diabetes, increased competition and a constant crunch for qualified staff. The situation translates into the need for a new model that enables caregivers to meet the needs of a higher volume of patients in an efficient, cost-effective manner. Yet many departments function in a paper-based silo mode that fails to provide anytime/anywhere access to patient data.
Some cardiology departments have found a solution. Next-generation cardiovascular information systems (CVIS) serve as the cornerstone of a massive re-engineering program characterized by streamlined access to patient images and information. The results include improved patient care, better cost control and the ability to use data to inform decisions about every facet of departmental operations. This month, Health Imaging & IT visits several leading-edge sites to learn more about how CVIS is boosting patient care as well as making economic sense.
The hospital within a hospital approach
Over the last 20 years, South Shore Hospital in Weymouth, Mass., has grown from a relatively small community hospital into a regional medical center and provider of acute-care services. While it’s only 15 miles south of the medical-mecca of Boston, South Shore has been able to entice patients to stay local because the hospital is high-tech as well as high-touch—and very easy to access for patients of all ages. As hospital leaders surveyed the demographics of its large catchment area, they realized the hospital needed to overhaul its cardiovascular department. The hospital built a new center based on the “hospital-within-a-hospital” approach. All cardiovascular services, from EKG to cardiac ultrasound, cardiac catheterization and rehabilitation, and all providers are located in the one-stop center—which is just steps from the front door of the hospital for easy access.
The cardiovascular center further streamlines the patient experience by directing each patient to a multi-purpose room. Instead of subjecting the patient to multiple visits or inter-departmental appointments, all providers see the patient in one room.
The new center offered the opportunity to rebuild operations. “We wanted a single-vendor [cardiovascular information system] solution rather than [multi-vendor] departmental systems,” says Bill Burke, director of cardiovascular medicine. That’s because disparate departmental systems don’t communicate as effectively with each other, requiring duplicative data entry that can lead to quality and patient safety problems. “Many medical errors stem from how healthcare shares data,” notes Burke. Using GE Healthcare Centricity Cardiology as its one true source of data, South Shore Hospital overcomes the challenge. The approach is quite simple. After the patient registers, all cardiovascular equipment absorbs the patient data.
The CVIS allowed the center to implement other key improvements. For example, Centricity Cardiology serves as a single database that tracks data across multiple systems, eliminating the need for multiple databases using different methods. “With one click, we can grab and slice and dice data like volume by procedure, physician or time of day. This allows us to make amazing practice management decisions. We know where to put resources [such as staff and equipment] to use them optimally,” says Burke. In addition, clinicians and referring physicians can access all clinical data and images from a single user interface. Plus, clinicians can share images instantly via email, keeping referring physicians and caregivers informed.
With CVIS, South Shore Hospital automated other critical functions including scheduling and patient tracking, billing and supply management. “The lack of efficient processes for these functions can cripple any department,” warns Burke. Centricity serves as a dynamic digital dry-erase board. Every patient, procedure, physician and room can be seen on an Outlook-type