Approaching Interoperability: Taking the Next Step in Realizing the Full Promise of Digital Diagnostic Imaging
Back in the day, when part of my job in radiology was hand developing x-ray film, no one could have imagined the impact of digitization on medical imaging — including all of the new kinds of diagnostic imaging and the tremendous savings in time, money, and space.
Now that more than a quarter century has passed since the first PACS systems were introduced, we are approaching another transformation: fully realizing the promise of digitization, with the ability to easily access and share a patient’s medical images across disciplines, accountable care organizations, and healthcare systems.
Radiologists are experts at image interpretation, but diagnosing from images removes important context about the patient that may impact the final diagnosis or care plan recommendations. We know that Radiologists want patient data, which is why access is provided to the systems that store it such as the EMR or RIS. While this access technically may provide a solution for retrieving patient data, it’s not the best solution, as it still relies on a Radiologist to leave their current reading environment and seek out the information much like looking for a needle in the haystack. What we have learned with the evolution of value-based care is that we must provide this patient context to Radiologists within their current reading environment in a manner that is consistent and reliable.
Cardiac care technology is advancing at an impressive rate. It seems like every month brings a new imaging technique, treatment option, or research finding with a lasting impact on how cardiac care is delivered or managed.
Cardiology imaging specialists have a unique role to play in the continued development of cardiac care. Innovations in technology require experienced, knowledgeable experts who can discern if, when, and how the new technology can be used to improve patient outcomes.
This month’s cardiology imaging roundup features two articles about breakthroughs in treatment, and two that ponder the implications of ever-evolving technology.
“Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink.” With apologies to poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge and his epic poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” many radiologists today struggle with a similar problem. While trying to find nuggets of useful information within EMRs, many may be saying to themselves, “Data, data, everywhere, nor anywhere to look.”
Consider for a moment the positive strides in information technology and imaging that have occurred over the past several years. Clinicians in all departments have magnitudes more data at their fingertips to help them make better decisions. But having all of the information in the world and not being able to find the one specific piece you need to make a concrete diagnosis is like being stranded on a raft in the middle of the ocean and needing a glass of water to drink.
It’s an exciting time to be a radiologist. Advances in technology allow for higher-quality scans and easier ways to share findings with the rest of the health system. Radiologists are being encouraged to take a more active role in patient care, becoming full participants in the flow of information throughout the system and to patients.
Granted, the shift to value-based care and increasing provider consolidation introduce new challenges for radiologists. But they also hold the possibility of new opportunities to contribute to better patient outcomes.