Tracking Imaging Center Operations with Web-based RIS/PACS
Case Study: Dynamic Medical Imaging  |  Columbus, Ohio

Sponsored by an educational grant from GE Healthcare & Dell

  Dennis Schiraldi, director of business development at Dynamic Medical Imaging in Columbus, Ohio, generates a variety of reports from the Centricity RIS/PACS-IW on a daily, weekly and monthly basis to monitor and track business trends and productivity.
Many facilities have now seen the benefits of utilizing Web-based RIS/PACS as a means to stay competitive, maximize relationships with the physician community, reduce expenses and streamline billing. Outpatient imaging center, Dynamic Medical Imaging in Columbus, Ohio—the first in the community to implement stand-up MRI when it opened its doors in 2006—knew it was not a question of whether to implement a Web-based RIS/PACS—but which one to buy. The facility, that has a service area of 1.7 million people and attracts referrals across a 4-hour radius, multi-state area, ultimately chose the Centricity RIS/PACS-IW from GE Healthcare.

Entering the outpatient imaging center market in the wake of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA) requires a strong business plan. Gone are the days of opening an outpatient imaging center, employing a staff, choosing some technology, developing marketing and referring physician relationships and then seeing the business flow through the door. An outpatient imaging center can look to Web-based RIS/PACS to service the needs of its clientele and achieve a competitive edge.

“With [Web-based RIS/PACS], I’m able to give the physician a tie to our facility,” says Dennis Schiraldi, center administrator and director of business development for Dynamic Medical Imaging. “Every opportunity to create a referral pattern than you can take advantage of is extremely important. I am interested in giving my clients what they need in the way that they are able to get images and reports back in a timely manner.”

Some physicians want to see the images on a CD, others want them via the internet and a very small percentage—about 10 percent—still want film. By giving physician’s Web-based access through an internet IP address, via a user name and a password, patient images can be reviewed from any location, even on PC workstations.

Schiraldi says that a key benefit of the system is the ability to organize and track referring physician data. “When you have more than 425 referring physicians whose needs have to be met—that can be challenging,” he says. A report can be generated weekly based on patterns of referring physicians.

In addition to seeing patients, Dynamic Medical is involved in research trials with the local state university. Without a RIS, Schiraldi says he would have to employ a person on a full-time basis to manage that entire research project.

“Although we’re a single modality, one MRI center, we need to keep all that information accurate. We need to keep it organized and efficient and [I] truly believe that the Centricity-IW gives us the best ability to do that,” he notes.

With Web-based RIS/PACS, the center also has gained the ability to construct reports to monitor business operations—breaking them down by part and as a whole—as well as patient schedules. “It is important to know if we’re scheduling patients effectively, whether or not insurance coverage has been verified, because that tells us whether or not we’re going to get paid for services that we’re providing,” he says.

There are more than 125 different reports to slice and dice business operations on a daily, monthly, quarterly and annual basis. Dynamic Medical utilizes a variety of those RIS reports to audit the business, Schiraldi says.

“With these reporting methods, I’m able to go out and market the business while managing it at the same time because there are certain checks and balances in place,” Schiraldi notes. “I am able to be center manager and marketer to manage the business with the comprehensiveness and the robustness of the system.”

Careful tracking enables the facility to watch a key data point, collection rate—which runs more than 90 percent. “In the post-DRA era, it becomes extremely important to maximize your return on investment. These systems not only minimize the amount of staff you have to put out there, but also improves collection rates through the scheduling features of the RIS,” he says.

With the RIS, workflow functionality is in place that as data are populated by the patient coordinator, the appropriate data must be in place to move from one step to the next. “If I miss something, the RIS reminds me that I’ve missed a step and helps me to go back and remember what to do,” says Brandi Evans, patient coordinator at Dynamic Medical. By not missing critical patient data, billing claims are more complete and result in minimal claim rejections. 

Evans ensures that patient flow within the office remains smooth by working with the RIS/PACS for scheduling while communicating with the technologist performing the exams as well as referring physician offices. When the patient walks in the door, Evans is able to immediately check him or her in, which lets the technologist know to begin the study. She also uses the RIS for patient insurance verification and to look for archived studies and information.

Ensuring accuracy with insurance information and names is imperative to servicing people appropriately, Schiraldi adds. “The CPT codes are built into the system, minimizing the risk of putting the inappropriate CPT code in,” he says. “We have the ability here within 72 hours of the close of the month to close out the prior month, send out all the bills in a timely fashion and get reimbursed within 30 to 45 days.” 

Web-based RIS/PACS can minimize operating expenses in the startup phase of an outpatient imaging center due to the fact that the staff manages the business through the IT platform instead of employing multiple personnel to manage different aspects of the business, Schiraldi notes.

The capabilities of Centricity RIS/PACS-IW have simplified Dynamic Medical Imaging’s reliance on a large IT staff as well improve operational efficiencies. For example, the reporting capabilities of the system have eliminated the need to have someone generate reports, audit the business, as well as plan and organize marketing campaigns. Schiraldi notes that the simplicity of the system means that anyone can handle providing referring physicians with access to the RIS/PACS. 

“The advent of the RIS/PACS allows the individual who has the ability to monitor the business operations to see an improvement in the accuracy of patient care, to make sure that you deliver on the service that you say that you will,” he says. “Secondly is accuracy and efficiency. You’re going to get doctors and patient names right. You’re going to get insurance coverage right. You’ve got the ability to move patients through the system efficiently and generate your bills much more quickly and accurately, improving your collection rate and overall, increasing your bottom-line revenues. It’s really a win-win for everyone.”