How an Ohio system saved money, improved care with enterprise imaging

As the need to share information and images between various hospital departments began to emerge, so did vendor neutral archive (VNA) and enterprise-imaging (EI) management systems, wrote authors of a recent Journal of Digital Imaging study. However, not all systems are prepared to implement these solutions.

Chen Sirota-Cohen, with the department of radiology at University Hospitals (UH) Cleveland Medical Center in Ohio, and colleagues detailed their experience with VNA and EI solutions so other systems could decide if the approach was right for them, according to the authors.

Launched in December 2015, the system’s solution includes 54 radiology and 26 cardiology sites affiliated with the organization. And since that time, their approach has led to more than 10 percent cost savings, 30 percent reduction in storage costs, “superior” disaster recovery support and an 80 percent decrease in unscheduled outages.

However, the real benefit has been the improvement in patient care, the authors noted.

“Caregivers no longer need to open third-party viewers, download applications, or handle external CDs,” Sirota-Cohen et al. wrote. “Patients no longer need to care for their copies of exams or CDs and more importantly do not need to re-take radiology exams when moving between network facilities.”

In 2014, prior to implementing their new system, University Hospitals Cleveland had three different PACS—each with its own archiving solution. If a cardiologist wanted to view a patient’s radiology images for example, they had to search the electronic medical record and ultimately open the radiology-specific PACS to view the images. The method hampered many workflows, according to the authors.

After creating a patient-centric imaging system based on their motto of “no image left behind,” Sirota-Cohen and colleagues implemented their solution in three separate phases, which they detailed in the Oct. 18 study.

In addition to the cost savings and benefits described earlier, the new system saw a nearly 120 percent increase in exams retrieved from the archive each month, jumping from 90,000 to 200,000. Additionally, the team noted, all participating departments experienced improved functionality, bi-directional electronic image sharing, routing data from a single location and availability of images in a central location.

The researchers acknowledged the undeniable cost factor as a consideration when taking on such a project, but “although the process required capital investment, the cost savings integrated in it are actually quite substantial,” they added.

“Although our primary implementation process is completed, we are still looking forward for future challenges,” the team concluded. “These include the inclusion of additional sites from the expanding UH network, incorporating further service lines (such as expanding ophthalmology or adding wound care), and expanding research efforts based on the growing database.”