HIMSS: IT shouldn't drive enterprise imaging solution decisions

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ATLANTA--“Information technologies (IT) shouldn’t be the focal point of what’s making [image consolidation solution] decisions. Instead, it should be the users of the system driving the decisions, and the system should be operational 24/7, 365 days a year,” said Jill Wojcik of the nonprofit Continued Health Partners (CHP) in New York City during a presentation today at HIMSS10.

Wojcik spoke about her experience throughout the five-facilities at CHP, in attempting to consolidate its repository to a common hardware platform, reduce storage costs, share radiology across multiple hospitals and provide a business continuity platform. “The decision we made to consolidate our images came from the problem of have three disparate PACS.  We wanted one enterprise-wide solution and one database,” said Wojcik.

The system in place at CHP is hardware-independent, noted Wojcik. “The storage solution doesn't matter, and we can mix and match the hardware,” she said. According to Wojcik, this helped her facility by offering clinicians ease of use during the migration, which is the most important factor.

She noted that the biggest problem her facility saw during implementation was infrastructure issues. “You need to make sure that your network bandwidth can handle the solution and that you have the storage,” she suggested.

In making the decision to consolidate clinical images, Wojcik mentioned four criteria she believes are necessary to consider: redundant storage solutions, inefficient staff schedule, retention regulations and retention policies.

Flexibility is the first part of adoption for Wojcik facility. “We employ best-of-breed practice.  We try to adapt to what the best product is for the institution, regardless of what vendor or platform.”

The next feature is accountability. “We hold our IT staff accountable and there is 100 percent ownership across the board,” she said, noting the importance of having one point of contact and one person who will get to the bottom of when a system goes down, whether it’s the hardware or application.

Scalability comes next, said Wojcik. At her facility, there is three years’ worth of room for growth and storage capabilities. “You want to make sure whatever your specking is scalable, she explained.  “More memory, more CPU, more processing power, and you’ll be able to take this to the next level without having to purchase new systems.”

Lastly, the system must be transferable. “Once a system goes live,” Wojcik explained, “benchmarking is important to learn why something may not be working. It may be a workstation or a user problem, but you need to know whether or not it’s something you may have implanted incorrectly the first time."

Wojcik considered the image consolidation project at her facility to be a success. “Our system handles all the radiologists across all our sights,“ she said.  “I’ve seen upwards of 250 users on the system at once, and we’ve never a problem.”

Lastly, the implantation must be up and running and accessible 100 percent of the time, noted Wojcik. “That’s what doctors demand out of their solutions.”