Taking it Up a Notch: Streamlining Workflow, Driving Cost Effectiveness

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San Diego Imaging’s integration of the AMICAS PACS and AMICAS Reach has produced 20-minute report turnaround times, improving patient care and workflow.

RIS/PACS solutions have alleviated the concerns of misplacing patient records and lags in turnaround times for radiology departments and imaging centers, allowing for the rapid retrieval of patient images and reports from remote locations. Yet, in addition to streamlining data and patient information flow, the integration of these workflow solutions have immeasurably improved patient care and facility-wide effectiveness.

Federated system solutions for interoperability
The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) is a multi-faceted operation comprising 20 academic, community and specialty hospitals with more than 4,200 beds. To conjure workflows that ensure optimal patient care, UPMC has updated its existing PACS infrastructure by creating the SingleView platform in all of its 20 hospitals and 30 imaging centers.

The facility has steered away from its previous “siloed workflow” which put RIS, PACS and 3D imaging head-to-head with one another, to integrate a new system, a “radiology workspace,” something that is “increasingly patient centric and workflow based,” says Rasu B. Shrestha, MD, medical director of digital informatics and chief of the division of radiology informatics at UPMC.

The SingleView application is a “federated system” with a “true imaging interoperability platform.” The application, according to Shrestha, was added as an upgrade to the existing Philips iSite PACS and GE Imagecast RIS solutions.

SingleView allows patient exams and records to be visually presented across all instances of the PACS, which he notes prevents any repetition of patient records. Shrestha says that before the upgrade, 23 percent of patient studies were found in additional hospital vaults other than the primary vault. This facilitated additional “unnecessary” patient tests and “suboptimal” readings of patient reports. Installation of SingleView, however, has alleviated these problems and improved workflow since physicians are spending less time per case. Shrestha estimates that on average the SingleView platform saves radiologists 3 to 5 minutes per case.

For the facility, the integration of the application has led to time efficiency, increased accuracy, and decreased the unnecessary repeat of scans and claim denials leading to facility-wide cost-savings, says Shrestha.

Optimizing care with swift, tailored solutions
Opening a new outpatient imaging facility was a stressful time for Debra J. Jennings, managing director of San Diego Imaging. Adding to that stress was deciding which enterprise solution system to integrate into the 20-employee facility that opened its doors in January 2007. Built from the bottom-up, the San Diego imaging center now treats almost 600 patients per week and about 31,000 per year.

Jennings, who has never looked back on her decision to utilize AMICAS’ PACS/RIS and AMICAS Reach solutions, says the systems have considerably improved patient care and workflow. With AMICAS Reach, says Jennings, information can be viewed at other facilities via web interface using a physican’s access portal. “Say I get a patient who walks in for an x-ray here and he or she has a doctor’s appointment in 15 minutes. We can say, you can go to your doctor office visit and the doctor will be able to see the images instantly regardless of how robust a system he has or not. He or she can see that with this web-based portal.”

Because the computerized system allows for physicians and administrators to track and store patient images and data, she says it “doesn’t let anything fall through the cracks.” The system allows for a 20-minute report turnaround.

Jennings says PACS make it easier to ensure that patients and physician notes are taken care of by using an administrator-tailored, color-coded tracking system. “It makes it so easy for us to track patient data—we don’t lose track of any stats.”

According to Jennings, the system also gives her the ability as an administrator to tailor exams for each referring physician by building notes into the RIS, such as always sending a patient CD with an exam or having a physician present during certain procedures. “I know if I build it in the RIS, it’s going to pass over to the PACS and it’s going to be compatible,” she says. This feature has lead to increased physician approval and efficiency for patients.

Decreased turnaround,