The other major theme at SIIM

Last week in Long Beach, Calif., the buzz at the annual meeting of the Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine (SIIM) revolved around big data. From the opening lecture to numerous educational session, leaders in the field shared their thoughts about where we stand with being able to leverage big data in radiology and where we might be heading.

But that wasn’t the only theme at the show. The other topic that seemed to be everywhere, as it has been for a number of years, is how to bridge gaps and bring an enterprise together.

From a technical perspective, this means being able to communicate images effective across an organization, and for some this strategy involves utilization of a vendor neutral archive (VNA) to consolidate enterprise imaging. A panel of industry experts met on Saturday to discuss the topic and offer advice to providers in the audience who may have been considering implementing their own VNA.

“You really need to be very certain what the problems are you’re trying to solve when you pick a VNA,” said Kevin Collins, vice president of research and development for Sectra North America. Collins noted that getting a VNA simply to avoid data migrations is not particularly wise as providers may end up migrating to a new solution down the line anyway. However, the true benefit of VNAs lies in their ability to bring different department storage and archives together, making sure they are all secure.

The enterprise is where the complexity lies, added Lenny J. Reznik, MBA, director of enterprise imaging and information solutions for Agfa HealthCare. For this reason, Reznik recommended paying attention to how various systems communicate with the VNA.

Aside from enterprise technology, a positive working relationship between staff across an enterprise is also key to success. Adam H. Kaye, MD, MBA, of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, provided one example of bringing staff together during a lecture about bridging gaps between radiology and IT staff.

Kaye said his organization used a survey to identify some misunderstandings between radiology and IT when it came to workflow and responsibilities. Radiologists, for example, on average guessed there were less than half as many workstations as the IT staff guessed, while IT had wildly varying responses when it came to guessing how many studies the radiology department read each day.

To help the two groups better understand each other, a shadowing program was started where members of radiology would follow an IT staff member for part of a day to see IT workflow, and vice versa. The program was a great success, said Kaye, and participants noted they were now more aware of the challenges their colleagues faced on a day-to-day basis.

Coordination across an organization will be essential in today’s era of healthcare, and the topic of imaging across an enterprise looks to be a major focus for the foreseeable future.

-Evan Godt
Editor – Health Imaging