- That and other findings related to enterprise imaging come from a June 2016 survey of 100 members of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) commissioned by lifeIMAGE.
A lack of EHR interoperability with imaging-related technology led the way as the top barrier to a complete imaging record by a significant margin over other barriers such as poor-functioning viewers and insufficient vendor support — 46 percent versus 10 percent and 9 percent, respectively. Also representing barriers are health data security issues (5%) and a lack of resources to accomplish (3%).
“It was telling to learn that the majority of CIOs surveyed say meeting interoperability at their facilities remains a challenge,” lifeIMAGE CEO & President Matthew Michela said. “Healthcare IT executives have an understanding of what needs to be done, because they’re seeing how unattainable image data can negatively impact patient care, but they haven’t yet solved the technical issues surrounding image interoperability."
To put those figures in perspective, a vast majority of respondents worked in hospital or acute care settings (77%), with Epic Systems being the most widely reported EHR technology in use (40%).
Among the key drivers for health IT interoperability with imaging technology, respondents listed improving care coordination (86%) and reducing redundant testing (71%) ahead of the rest — improving physician satisfaction (63%), improving patient satisfaction (55%), reducing radiation exposure (42%), and increasing patient referrals (23%). However, a majority of respondents noted that their providers were not able to exchange medical images with recipients outside their four walls: 54 percent (yes) to 46 percent (no).
Despite the high value placed on improving care coordination and reducing redundant testing, respondents indicated that a limited access to images would not negatively impact patient care (52%) nor would their facilities lose revenue access as a result of image access challenges (66%).
Additionally, a majority of healthcare CIOs and senior IT leaders reported that their facilities had implemented an enterprise imaging strategy (58%), with the remainder reporting being in progress (23%) or not having done so (19%). The survey, however, did not contain details about the imaging systems already implemented.
As for a go-forward strategy with imaging technology, respondents were divided over where their organizations would be making investments over the next 12 months:
- Enterprise viewer (44%)
- PACS (40%)
- Vendor neutral archive (39%)
- Clinical decision support (27%)
- Image exchange system (25%)
- RIS (16%)
- Analytics (15%)
- Workflow (9%)
These findings come at a time when the healthcare industry is gearing up for a major transition from fee-for-service to value-based reimbursement, the latter of which will rely heavily on coordinated care, the strategic use of resources, and patient outcomes.
"The survey responses tell the story of how payers are incentivizing interoperable health data through bundled payments and other programs that reward health providers who do not re-image patients when it is clinically unnecessary," the authors noted. "This calls for technology that isn’t just a cloud or a local-network VNA. In order to share images outside its local or wide-area network, health systems need an integrated combination of both technology approaches to achieve true interoperability and realize tangible results with image exchange workflows."
Earlier this month, health data exchange of imaging results was the motivation behind a health IT investment by UMass Memorial Health Care. The four-hospital system announced that it would begin deploying six imaging technologies this fall ranging from enterprise imaging solutions for cardiology radiology to an imaging exchange and VNA.
"We needed to address the evolving imaging informatics needs of our health care system," Chairman of Radiology Max Rosen, MD, MPH, said in an official statement. "After an extensive evaluation of clinical and technical capabilities, we chose Agfa HealthCare's Enterprise Imaging solution. We were specifically pleased with their contemporary technology platform as well as their workflow, and clinical / educational collaboration tools. It's a good fit for our caregivers and most importantly our patients."