Enterprise Imaging: A Necessity – Not a Luxury – for Hospitals & Health Systems

Enterprise imaging platforms would enable organizations to consistently and optimally capture, index, manage, store, distribute, view, exchange and analyze all clinical imaging and multimedia content, enhancing patients’ electronic health records.

Data driven medicine has changed healthcare for the better. For example, billions of dollars have been poured into digital health applications, which streamline access to data. When it comes to research, a revolution in oncology therapies has now transformed cancer care. And yet, as an industry, we still are not doing all we could to further streamline and simplify the complexities of sharing and integrating complex medical data – and more specifically, imaging data.

As a patient, a parent, and an executive at an enterprise imaging company, I still find myself presented with a physical CD at some healthcare institutions. Not only does this slow down the doctor’s ability to assess these images, but it also makes it more challenging to share other critical healthcare information or data with other providers.

Even though the technology exists to support seamless data transfer between providers, adoption of the tech has historically been slow, creating challenges in accessing vital information. Furthermore, at a macro level, this inability to share and integrate data leads to silos of information and a lack of care coordination.

Enterprise imaging strategies aim to change this. Rather than relying solely on radiology PAC solutions, healthcare organizations should implement strategies, initiatives and workflows across the healthcare enterprise that can manage a breadth of data in a holistic manner. Enterprise imaging platforms, for example, would enable organizations to consistently and optimally capture, index, manage, store, distribute, view, exchange and analyze all clinical imaging and multimedia content, enhancing patients’ electronic health records (EHRs).

Of course, breaking free from the status quo is easier said than done. As the volume and complexity of medical imaging management and informatics skyrocket, hospitals and health systems are dealing with a number of operational, clinical and technical challenges. These include industry consolidation, which unites healthcare organizations with different IT solutions and complex, inefficient workflows that have providers bouncing from one workstation to another to complete different tasks. The growing amount of data that has to be stored and managed also drives up hardware needs, requiring more costly servers and the highly technical IT personnel to support them.

The Impact of Enterprise Imaging on Interoperability, Caregiver Workload and Patient Outcomes

Implementing an enterprise imaging program can help hospitals and health systems currently struggling with these issues improve performance in their own day-to-day operations. Additionally, it fosters collaboration across various departments to deliver high-quality care and personalized patient outcomes.

Rather than maintaining imaging data within specific departments, enterprise imaging centralizes and standardizes data collection and storage across the entire healthcare organization. Since such programs provide a centralized foundation for all phases of image management from every image-producing specialty, it can make providers more efficient while reducing the growing burnout stemming from administrative overload.

Centralizing the imaging infrastructure and standardizing workflows organization-wide improves operational efficiency, bolsters cybersecurity by reducing potential points of weakness and makes it possible for EHRs to become the “single source of truth” for patient data. Enterprise imaging can also support telehealth and mobile health initiatives, enabling providers to access images wherever they are, at any time of day. And with artificial intelligence (AI), providers can gain greater insights from the vast amounts of data being generated to support value-based care initiatives.

More importantly, perhaps, is how enterprise imaging can improve patient care. Collaboration across all departments is vital to delivering high-quality, personalized patient care and improved outcomes. By having access to all visual material – such as CT scans, MRIs, ultrasounds, X-rays and more – along with EHRs, providers have a more complete picture of a patient's health and insights into their case. This information can then be accessed easily and analyzed by doctors for comparison of a patient’s conditions over time, or by patients through a patient portal. Enterprise imaging also supports greater collaboration, enabling data to be shared across various departments, or even with providers working remotely to support telehealth services.

Moving to an enterprise imaging solution may seem daunting. But it’s important for hospitals and health systems to take a look at their current imaging solutions and workflows and consider what toll a lack of efficiency and integration takes on providers and how these processes impact patient care. Then ask yourself, "Can my organization afford to continue without enterprise imaging?" More often than not, the answer is no, making it more important than ever for healthcare organizations to implement a powerful, vendor-neutral cloud-based enterprise imaging solution, enabling them to centralize patient data, achieve interoperability, reduce caregiver workload and improve patient outcomes.

Morris Panner is the president of Intelerad Medical Systems, leading the company on delivering better care through improved technology.