It's All in the Numbers

Everyone is watching the numbers very carefully these days. Smart business decisions are the only ones to make. In healthcare IT, the best strategy starts with buying the right technology for your facility, its current needs and future growth. Perhaps even more important is using the tools those systems offer, notably metrics for monitoring patient scheduling efficiency, planning staffing and estimating reimbursement and revenue.

This is what practice management is all about, which is the topic of this month’s special section. Maybe interfaced RIS/PACS was your choice or maybe you went with integrated RIS/PACS—or maybe you’re lamenting over the decision now? “Blurring the Lines: Interfaced vs. Integrated RIS/PACS” may help clear up the confusion. Another story to check out, “Upgrading RIS/PACS: Inside the Transition to Next-Generation Image Management” details the reasons why opting for an upgrade may make better fiscal sense, rather than switching to a new vendor.

Beyond specific IT systems is the need for efficient workflow. Every business is constantly refining its workflow. Five facilities tell us what they’re learning in “Taming the Workflow Beast.” A vital part of good workflow is quick access to images and applications—that’s where archiving comes in; lost access to data can affect cash flow and lead to lost revenues. Check out a variety of archive models in the story "Availability, Applications Drive New Archive Strategies."

Another look at the numbers this month comes in the form of healthcare IT salaries. We’ve expanded our annual PACS Administrator salary survey to include the gamut of healthcare IT professionals. The data tracks the top 10 salaries by number of respondents—including PACS administrators, directors and managers of information systems, IT project managers, CIOs, directors and managers of radiology informatics, systems administrators, programmers and analysts, directors and managers of technical services, directors and managers of cardiology informatics and network engineers. And because we learned so much about healthcare IT and today’s business priorities from the data behind the salary survey, we’ve included charts on what IT systems facilities are buying, eyeing and replacing—and what’s on the top of their to-do lists in 2008, 2009 and 2010. See "Diving Deeper: The Data Behind the Salary Survey" for a look!