Interoperability in healthcare does not end with the transfer of text-based data. While physician notes are essential elements, text-based data does not always fully disclose a patient’s state of health. That’s why we will be exploring how an image bridge to EMR systems can enhance clinical efficiency and improve patient experiences.
Why Are Images Important?
Images are essential elements in a patient’s medical history. However, in times past, gaining instant access to medical images has not been easy for providers. Radiology departments only switched entirely from film to digital images at the turn of the 21st century.
Why Images Did Not Appear in Older EMR Implementations
When radiology services moved over to digital images about three decades ago, the expectations were high. The standard known as DICOM – which stands for Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine, was created. However, it did not ensure full standardization due to how metadata and tags were applied by different picture archiving and communication systems.
Because different specialties, including surgery, endoscopy, pathology, podiatry, dermatology, and many others, have different workflows, the file types produced by each department have been varied. This has made it challenging for hospitals to put all their images into one repository.
Additional challenges come from the size of the images involved. For instance, MRI scans have increased in quality with a single head scan producing up to 20,000. This could produce a 2 GB file in a single study. When you add the demands from follow up studies for each patient, the storage needs can add up rapidly.
Unfortunately, the lack of interoperability between image-producing departments and EMRs have resulted in image silos in many organizations. Consequently, many patients and physicians have to use different types of manual methods for sharing images.
Patients have to carry their DVD containing pictures to follow-up appointments. Unfortunately, when this happens, physicians will not have a chance to study images before the appointment.
For these reasons, medical informatics experts like LifePoint have developed image bridge software that connects image repositories with EHRs for seamless integration.
Benefits of an EMR Bridge
Some of the advantages of linking an image bridge with an EMR include:
1. Capacity to have a 360 view of the patients’ images
When there’s an image bridge, a physician can view all images taken at different facilities for years.
2. Improvement in Clinical Workflow
When a doctor can instantly access all required images while viewing a patient’s medical history, it improves clinical workflow. Caregivers will be able to maximize the use of the time available to treat their patients.
3. Reduction of Redundant Images
A system with interoperable medical imaging eliminates the need for unnecessary images. As long as all images taken for the patient have been accessed, no redundant scans will be ordered. This saves the provider and patient’s time and money, thereby improving satisfaction and quality of care for the patient.
Discover More About the Image Bridge to EMR Systems
Call LifePoint Informatics at 877.522.8378 to see a live demo of an EMR/EHR image bridge or for a free consultation on any EMR interoperability solutions.