Let’s Enable Efficient Imaging Workflow!

Tom Zimmerman

I attended several enterprise imaging presentations about workflow at the recent Centricity™ Live event in Denver. Andrei Leontiev, a GE Healthcare Product Management leader in this area, did a nice job connecting the dots between workflow efficiency and enterprise imaging outcomes. I’ve included some of Andrei’s insights for this post:

“One key to an efficient enterprise imaging workflow is the accuracy and completeness of information that drives decisions. Inaccurate or missing data such as patient clinical history, insurance, financial or other factors may cause cancellations, re-scheduling and re-takes. And with that, lower equipment utilization and lost productivity may follow – impacting radiologists, technologists and clinicians. With healthcare arguably transitioning toward outcomes-based business models, inefficient imaging workflow may impact care quality.

Here are five components to consider for enhanced efficiencies in imaging workflow:

  1. Patient Data intake: Patient information is often scattered between one or more EMR, RIS, HIS, or other departmental information systems. These are often owned and managed by disparate business entities. It is imperative to provide an efficient way for participants in imaging workflow to access this information no matter where it originated. Lab results, prior procedure results, patient-provided questionnaires are just a few examples of data that will affect the imaging workflow if missing or inaccurate. Data sharing standards, such as those established by the Integrating the healthcare Enterprise (IHE) initiative, are good starting points for building the data sharing infrastructure that provides access to the as complete patient record as possible.
  1. Exam Pre-requisites: Make sure that all exam pre-requisites are properly executed before an exam takes valuable scanner time slot(s). Pre-requisites vary from modality to modality and between procedures. Therefore, assuring an exam is appropriate, authorized and protocoled correctly can help to avoid delays and problems down the road.
  2. Intra-exam data capture: Take advantage of data streams provided by modalities and devices to capture specifics during exam acquisition. Capturing and ingesting valuable clinical information- such as dose indicators and contrast usage – is preferred over documenting it retrospectively. You may get enhanced clinical content that can help radiologists as they read and arrive at their diagnosis.
  3. Post-exam directives: Radiological reports contain a wealth of information, including diagnostic findings, but also recommendations for follow-up actions (such as additional imaging examination, pathology capture or other types of exam) that may contribute to better patient outcomes. These can help the referring physician to efficiently identify and follow-through on appropriate post-exam recommendations.
  4. Analytics: It’s easier to improve something that you can measure. As your imaging department performance is judged by the improving patient outcomes at the lower cost, build appropriate metrics to understand how you are doing. Think what quality measures your enterprise reports on, what goals it wants to achieve – and then look at your current workflow for improvements that can be made related to patient data access, execution on exam pre-requisites, automated capture of intra-exam data and follow up for post-exam directives.

In closing, enabling efficient imaging workflow may help with patient outcomes and the enterprise bottom line.  To achieve desired results, consider working with your enterprise healthcare IT vendors to assure uninterrupted flow of information to each and every user on every step of your workflow.”

My thanks to Andrei Leontiev for his insights and work with Centricity RIS-IC. Please let me know your own experiences and thoughts on this topic. I plan to share more on this in the future.

Be encouraged in all you do!    Tom Z

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