Enterprise Imaging – It’s All About the Right Ingredients


After recovering from the invigorating, but exhausting, experience of RSNA 2014 many folks around the world are starting to look forward to the holiday season – a time for friends, family and…food!

As I started to pull out a few treasured family recipes to plan our holiday celebrations, I began to think that baking is actually an apt metaphor for enterprise imaging. Lest you think I’m crazy, hear me out.

Different recipes. Same ingredients?

As I looked at a few recipes for baked goods and started to create my shopping list, I found myself planning to go to the same aisles over and over. Whether I looked at a recipe for challah bread or sourdough rolls, I seemed to need the same few things: some type of flour, eggs, liquid, and a leavening agent.

Similarly, in talking to clients at RSNA about their approaches to enterprise imaging, I heard them mentioning the same challenges over and over. Whether they were a small community hospital or a large IDN, gobbling up hospitals like Christmas cookies, the conversations kept returning to a need for solutions to four common things: Archiving, visualization, workflow, and collaboration.

A winning recipe requires the right combinations

Could the four ingredients I kept seeing on my shopping list tie to the four things required for enterprise imaging? With some additional digging, I learned that every ingredient has a very specific role in the finished product:

  • Flour provides structure for the product. The gluten sets as it heats to create the architecture;
  • Liquid carries flavorings throughout the product and reacts with starch for strong structure;
  • Eggs act as an emulsifier for a smooth and even texture in the finished product; and
  • Leavening agents form CO2, which is held in the flour and makes the baked product rise.

The four ingredients for successful enterprise imaging

If I look at each of these ingredients and its role in the process I can see that the four things needed for enterprise imaging actually play similar roles:

  • Archiving is one of the main ingredients of enterprise imaging. You just can’t have a baked good without flour. And, similarly, you just can’t have an enterprise imaging strategy without a vendor neutral archive (VNA). An archive provides structure and serves as the foundational element on which everything else is built.
  • Visualization is a bit like the liquid that helps to carry flavorings throughout the product. The liquid makes sure that the cinnamon and cloves are perfectly mingled together, just like a single viewer can marry clinical data from radiology, cardiology, or any specialty area.
  • Workflow is what makes everything work smoothly. Just like the eggs ensure a smooth and even texture, workflow ensures fluid care coordination.
  • Collaboration is similar to a leavening agent.Just as baking powder causes a lump of dough to expand into something delicious, collaboration tools are what bring a technical solution to life, making it social and engaging for the entire community.

Make no mistake: Enterprise imaging is far more complex than baking a loaf of crusty, golden bread. And maybe I’ve reached a bit to make my analogy work, but I believe that there are some interesting parallels.

As I finalize my holiday grocery list, I’m going to make sure that I have the right ingredients. So too, should CIOs. To be successful an enterprise imaging strategy must combine four ingredients: visualization, workflow, archiving and collaboration.

Here’s to delicious celebrations, happy holidays and transforming imaging in the new year.

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