August 02, 2022

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An enterprise imaging strategy in this new era of connected care

Healthcare data is exploding. The industry is generating more data than any other, according to a report from RBC Capital Markets.

Photo of Kim Stavrinakis

Kim Stavrinakis

Senior Solution Market Manager

Medical professional reviews medical images on desktop computer screens.

“By 2025, the compound annual growth rate of data for healthcare will reach 36%,” the report says. RBC predicts the growth rate will surpass that of manufacturing, financial services, and media and entertainment.

Why is healthcare data growing so fast?

In a global market report, the Business Research Company summed it up: “Advances in big data analytics tools and medical imaging, as well as the increasing availability of real-time data to aid clinical decision-making, have all contributed to this rapid increase in healthcare data volume.”

Managing Healthcare Data Growth

Managing all this healthcare data is especially challenging when you consider that much of it lives outside of the traditional electronic health record (EHR) platform in siloed systems where it isn’t easily accessed or managed.

For healthcare organizations, three-quarters of patient data is unstructured or semi-structured, meaning, it’s data that doesn’t fit neatly into a database and is not natively captured by the EHR.

A strategy for managing all of this healthcare data is fundamental to healthcare delivery organizations’ digital transformation as well as its transformation from a provider of healthcare treatment to prevention.

Enterprise Imaging Strategy is Key

With 75% of healthcare data expected to be medical imaging assets — DICOM and non-DICOM — it stands to reason that a comprehensive strategy for enterprise imaging and healthcare content management is an important consideration for healthcare delivery organizations (HDOs).

That strategy should image-enable existing siloed applications using a robust visualization component — one that allows medical images to be accessed and viewed quickly and easily regardless of format.

The Universal Image Viewer Grows Up

Welcome to the new era of enterprise diagnostic imaging.

An enterprise diagnostic image viewer can address visualization requirements in an enterprise imaging strategy. Image viewer technology has undergone a remarkable transformation in recent years. Feature sets have advanced, as have integration capabilities, paving the way for interoperability with other clinical systems in use at HDOs.

The ability to interoperate with existing imaging systems allows the enterprise diagnostic image viewer to federate these existing silos, making content available to all clinicians throughout the enterprise.

Imaging enables more informed clinical decision-making and drives down costs by allowing HDOs to capture, manage and view medical images while integrating them into existing workflows.

We wanted to create a seamless image viewing experience for our physicians, so that it didn’t matter if a doctor was looking at a patient image in our community hospital or our main academic campus.

— Vineeta Khemani, Director of Information Services Division Architecture and Clinical Systems at UNC Health

Start With Visualization

A successful enterprise imaging strategy usually consists of three parts:

  1. A capture solution
  2. An image management solution
  3. A visualization/workflow orchestration solution.

Providers can implement the solution in increments beginning in any of these areas based on their organization’s needs and limitations. Visualization can be an effective first step in implementing an enterprise imaging strategy.

Traditional medical image viewing methods often require clinicians to log into several dedicated departmental applications to view the myriad images associated with a patient. This time-consuming exercise can create clinical blind spots — and ultimately have a negative impact on patient diagnosis and treatment.

Connect to Images Across Silos, Collaborate in Real Time

Enterprise image viewing solutions have evolved, releasing medical images from locked, standalone, proprietary systems that block clinicians’ access to images, which hinders collaboration, efficiency and workflows.

Today’s medical image visualization solutions can be vendor-agnostic and let clinicians access, view and collaborate on images without being tied to a specific system or workstation. A true “zero footprint” solution allows clinicians to access images across specialties — using any device — from anywhere a secure internet connection is available.

The modern enterprise imaging viewer allows clinicians to easily access DICOM studies as well as all varieties of non-DICOM images through any browser-based device — from anywhere. Regardless of where an image was taken — from radiology to ophthalmology to the ED — or what modality was used to capture the image, the right visualization solution can connect these images across a health system and allow clinicians to access and collaborate on medical images.

A Great Place to Start

An enterprise viewing solution is a great starting point for a broader enterprise imaging strategy.

It helps to immediately connect healthcare imaging information that exists within individual silos across an organization. It gives the HDO an advantage in developing an enterprise imaging strategy that is part of a strategic plan to connect healthcare data across the enterprise.

What Can a True Enterprise Viewer Do For You?

A comprehensive, true-zero-footprint enterprise image viewer is no ordinary viewer.

Early adopters of a comprehensive medical imaging visualization approach have already realized its benefits and often use the newfound capabilities to meet unique requirements and support innovative programs.

Healthcare innovator UNC Health implemented an enterprise imaging strategy that includes a comprehensive visualization capability to support its “One patient, one chart, one imaging record” vision. Read UNC Health’s case study.

Like other healthcare organizations, UNC Health initiated its data consolidation journey with the EHR, but quickly realized that a truly comprehensive healthcare information strategy required more. With the Hyland NilRead enterprise viewer, UNC Health was able to integrate imaging studies with its EHR to provide a longitudinal imaging record for the organization. In the process, it decommissioned 15 PACS systems.

Another medical center used its enterprise-wide visualization solution to streamline enterprise image collaboration and sharing that enabled an innovative teleneurology program. Clinicians at this organization can now better determine which patients need tertiary care.

At the Heart of Connected Health

Today’s healthcare delivery model demands a patient-centered, structured, outcomes-based approach. This requires an advanced approach to access image data anywhere, any time to equip clinicians with the tools they need.

The best support for patient care revolves around having access to as much data as possible and creating information about a patient to support care decisions. Access to medical imaging exams and procedures — even from different providers — is essential to this process.

Medical images are a critical component of completing the patient picture. However, without a comprehensive visualization approach as part of an enterprise imaging strategy, an HDO will rely on an incomplete clinical picture of the patient.

It’s time for an enterprise imaging plan, and a comprehensive visualization strategy is a great place to start.