Enterprise Imaging – Do Patients Care About Ones and Zeros?

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Ones and Zeros…Challenges in Imaging Informatics

Silos of data, lack of interoperability, increasing volumes of studies, and inefficiencies in workflow…..  Most discussions in Imaging Informatics today seemingly are ensconced in addressing many complex technology challenges.  Those involved in Imaging Informatics are consistently asking themselves, “Do I have access to the right data?”, “Are our systems interoperable”, “Are my systems designed to maximize workflow across my enterprise? , “Do we have the right amount of storage?” , and “Am I leveraging my existing IT enterprise wide assets, like security and disaster recovery?”.

As the care teams and IT departments manage through these complex challenges, I wonder….  what do the patients think?  Do the patients understand the complexities faced by their care teams, do patients understand what it takes to get the diagnosis right, the first time, in a timely fashion.  Do the patients understand ones and zeros?

From a Patient’s Point-of-View

Recently, through an unusual set of circumstances, three family members, became patients requiring imaging services.  I had the opportunity talk with each of them about their experience.  One required a scan due to a heart attack, one required a scan due to a broken bone, and one required a scan due to an annual mammography scan.  In talking with each about their imaging experience, it became clear that these members of my family, imaging patients, were not familiar with the challenges and complexities faced by their care teams.  They were not familiar with the silos of data, or the terabytes of data created in imaging.  They were not familiar with the inefficiencies in workflow. They did not understand the process for their clinicians to prepare the final reports and diagnosis.

Common Themes – The Patient Experience

While these individuals did not understand ones and zeros; they collectively described some common and important themes in their imaging experience.  All three agreed that their Imaging scan was the most important and most necessary component for diagnosing their condition, and preparing their care plan.  All three placed value in the innovative technologies and tools used in the scanning process, including the “big machines” and “CD’s of images”.  And, all three placed a high level of value in their overall experience, using words like “fast scan”, “noiseless”, “helpful clinicians”, and “fast turnaround of their report and diagnosis”.  One in fact stated, “My experience was so easy and smooth, I am going to tell others to go to the same facility.”  It’s all about the family experience, it’s all about the patient experience.

My discussions were quite interesting.  However, I left the discussions feeling a disparity between the complex challenges faced by the clinicians in imaging informatics, and the smooth and timely experience that these individuals experienced.

Delivering Integrated Care and Outcomes

Considering the disparity, I feel a big sense of gratitude for the clinicians in Imaging Informatics.  These caregivers manage through the complex challenges in imaging informatics today in order to deliver the best patient reports and diagnosis, in the timeliest fashion.   It is clear to me, that while the clinicians in imaging informatics face challenges on a daily basis, they still always prioritize the needs of the patient.    The clinicians in Imaging know that behind the ones and zeros are family members, mom’s ,dad’s, grandparents, children, aunt and uncles.  At the end of the day, it’s about doing whatever it takes to care for the patients they serve, and delivering integrated care and outcomes.


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