Connecting Radiologists in the Cloud
The Cloud allows radiologists to store, share and connect more easily than ever before. Since radiologists work with large images such as CT scans and X-Rays, the ability to store and share images on a cloud-based system can maximize efficiencies. Newer medical devices often generate complex imagery with very large file sizes. The Cloud provides a platform that is capable of supporting very large image files. This is just one of the benefits radiologists can expect when they adopt the Cloud.
With the Cloud comes the ability to quickly share exams and reports with other healthcare facilities, even if the files are very large. Just as radiology has improved patient care, the Cloud improves patient care by allowing radiologists to provide services without actually having to be at the location of the patient.
Whether the radiologist needs to share exams and reports with other healthcare facilities, distribute radiology records to patients digitally, view patient images and reports prior to a patient’s appointment, or request a second opinions from radiologists or subspecialists in a specific network or a different location entirely, the Cloud enables better medical care via 24/7 access.
In addition to the efficiencies that the Cloud provides on the provider side, it also adds control on the patient side. With more patients taking charge of their health via personal health records, the Cloud is fast becoming a necessity. In the medicine today, as in so many other industries, Cloud computing is no longer a luxury -- it’s a prerequisite for optimal service.
What should radiologists look for in a Cloud service?
As more radiology companies warm to the idea of leveraging Cloud computing, Cloud providers have begun to proliferate. With this larger scale availability and advances in the healthcare industry it’s important for radiologists to choose a Cloud provider that can provide the greatest efficiencies, savings, and patient care.
HIPAA Compliance is a must! The HIPAA Privacy Rule requires establishing and implementing measures that ensure confidentiality, integrity and availability of all Protected Health Information (PHI), while the Security Rule addresses safeguards specific to security of electronic data. Health plans, healthcare clearinghouses, healthcare providers, business associates to whom they provide health information must all comply. This also means that any third-party partners and associates be compliant as well. So, it is fundamentally important when choosing a Cloud provider to ensure that this partner understands all of the issues that enable you to maintain HIPAA compliance.
Benefits of Cloud Computing for Radiology
With no capital equipment to purchase, no software to download and a zero footprint, even small medical centers can benefit from Cloud based technologies. Using a robust Medical Imaging cloud provides image archiving and communications through a full array of advanced visualization tools for digital images. Because it's in the cloud, or web-based, it's accessible anywhere, anytime as long as the authorized user has an internet connection.
Radiology Services Online is an example of a SaaS/Cloud solution that supports the display and maneuvering of medical images in full diagnostic resolution on any Internet-enabled PC or mobile digital device. This cloud solution hosts and manages data and images via the web providing primary, secondary and disaster recovery storage solutions that are scalable to any user's needs.
Today’s medical environment demands efficient and cost-effective workflow providing access throughout healthcare to be able to make more informed patient care choices. Radiology Services Online offers a unique digital imaging turnkey solution for all modalities with a modest “per use” fee structure. A full suite of imagine interpretation, management and billing tools allow faster and more accurate diagnosis.
HIPAA 2014 – Are You Ready to Be Audited?
With numerous HIPAA breaches having come to light in the past year, Federal regulators are revitalizing the HIPAA audit program. The audits will be narrower in scope than the original 115 audits done in the 2012 pilot program, but the narrower scope means that there will be a larger number of organizations that will be audited. The audits will be performed by the Department of Health and Human Services' Office for Civil Rights (OCR).
Beginning in 2014, HIPAA audits are part of a permanent program, and will include not only the covered entities, but also business associates of covered entities, because they're liable for HIPAA compliance under the HIPAA Omnibus Rule. Business associates include contractors and subcontractors and others working with the covered entitiy. It is reported that some of the largest breaches reported to HHS have involved business associates. Penalties are increased for noncompliance based on the level of negligence with a maximum penalty of $1.5 million per violation.
HIPAA Omnibus Rule
The HIPAA Omnibus Rule implements a number of provisions of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, enacted as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, to strengthen the privacy and security protections for health information established under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).
The goal of this new rule making and tweaking of older rules is to provide the public with increased protection and control of personal health information. Individual rights are expanded in important ways. Patients can ask for a copy of their electronic medical record in an electronic form. When individuals pay by cash they can instruct their provider not to share information about their treatment with their health plan. The final omnibus rule sets new limits on how information is used and disclosed for marketing and fundraising purposes and prohibits the sale of individuals’ health information without their permission.
HHS Office for Civil Rights Director Leon Rodriguez is reported to have said that these are “the most sweeping changes to the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules since they were first implemented.”
In addition to vigorously supporting patient’s rights to privacy protection, the new changes also give additional enforcement abilities to OCR, regardless of whether the health information is held by a health provider, a health plan or one of their contractors or business associates.
A major weakness found during the pilot audit program, as well as through OCR breach investigations, has been a lack of thorough risk analysis. Covered entities would do well to analyze the risk of breach that they are entertaining with their current systems, policies and procedures.
Conducting a risk analysis should be the first step in identifying and implementing safeguards that comply with and carry out the standards and implementation specifications required by HIPAA and the Omnibus Rule. It is our understanding that OCR can provide guidance in conducting a risk analysis.
In addition the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) publishes material that is readily available in the public domain, including guidelines that represent industry standards for various types of compliance –security, business practices, etc. Cover entities would do well to make use of this information when performing their risk analysis and developing their HIPAA and Omnibus Rule compliance.
All personal health information that is electronically created, received, maintained or transmitted by an organization is subject to HIPAA security rules and the organization must evaluate risks and vulnerabilities in their environments and to implement reasonable and appropriate security measures to protect this information against reasonably anticipated threats or hazards to the security or integrity of the information.
As a start on risk analysis, NIST Special Publication (SP)800-66 recommends asking questions like these:
- Have you identified all sources of electronic personal health information (e-PHI) within your organization? This includes e-PHI that you create, receive, maintain or transmit.
- What are the external sources of e-PHI? For example, do vendors or consultants create, receive, maintain or transmit e-PHI?
- What are the human, natural, and environmental threats to information systems that contain e-PHI?
Once these questions are fully answered, then an organizations can go on to develop appropriate security measures to guard their e-PHI. This may include, for example:
- Design appropriate personnel screening processes
- Identify what data to backup and how
- Decide whether and how to use encryption
- Address what data must be authenticated in particular situations to protect data integrity
- Determine the appropriate manner of protecting health information transmissions
If performing your own risk analysis and creating your own secure systems seems daunting, consider using vendors and solutions that are already vetted for HIPAA compliance.
How to Solve the Biggest Problems of Medical Data Management
We’re told that for hospitals, 2014 is the year of improved patient safety, improved patient experience and stringent data management requirements. Some say that as many as half of all hospitals are at risk of going out of business in 2014 if they don’t make substantial changes to their data management strategies.
A modern data management approach saves time and money while improving efficiencies and lessening patient data mix-ups or loss. The burgeoning use of digital data from medical imaging and electronic health records requires an easily unified system for both EHR and images that offers scalable storage and access without requiring hospitals to invest in additional hardware, software, floor space and personnel to manage and secure the data.
Big Changes – Short Time Span
Having come from film imaging and paper records to the world of digital in a relatively short time span, is it any wonder that hospitals and other healthcare organizations are struggling to keep up with the changing world of data management and improved patient care? The ubiquitous cloud can come to the rescue.
Hospitals and other healthcare organizations can achieve many benefits and reach for new possibilities with cloud applications. One of the benefits is the ability to reach across the enterprise, regardless of location in order to connect healthcare providers with patient information. Secure links can even enable physician access from outside the enterprise when it is in the patient’s best interest.
Cloud image viewing systems allow radiologists to view diagnostic quality images as well as to share the images with radiologists or specialists in other locations in order to confer on diagnosis. Cloud based medical records enable access to full medical documentation for patients in order to provide more holistic care. This shift to cloud technologies opens up the possibility of better medical care for rural and underdeveloped areas, as well as more dynamic workflow processes in urban and developed areas.
Benefits of Cloud/SaaS
These cloud image and records sharing platforms can be used a subscription-based service (SaaS), so they are scalable, as well as secure. When health care facilities move to this type of platform from the existing legacy desktop solutions, better patient care often follows.
With mobile viewing on smartphones and tablets, diagnosis can be more immediate and patient care can be accelerated, with better outcomes, shorter hospital stays and lower costs, enabling struggling hospitals to improve bottom lines and solvent hospitals to innovate toward better patient care.
As this combination of modern technology and instant information simplifies and speeds daily tasks, the healthcare community is able to focus more specifically on improving patient care and patient experience.
What About Standards?
While the healthcare industry as a whole, struggles to work out and agree upon future standardization issues, privacy concerns and potential security problems, there are excellent vendor neutral solutions available today that expertly tackle the storage, access and sharing of all kinds of medical imagery and medical records.
Vendor neutral systems enable hospitals to make use of their existing technology while moving into the cloud to help reduce waste and inefficiency. Vendor neutral cloud systems help to minimize some of the work normally required for an enterprise-wide technological change, and are intrinsically adaptable to new standards as they develop.
While there’s no such thing as a” one-size-fits-all solution, ” vendor-natural cloud technology makes it easier to scale, integrate and adapt to current hospital systems. Truly excellent vendor neutral solutions meet current established standards, such as HIPAA, and are designed in such a way that as new IHE (Integrated Healthcare Enterprise) standards are adopted, the solution can be brought into specification with minimal disruption to the organization.
Some say that the ultimate goal is to use established standards to help everyone’s systems talk to each other, but until then, if you use only vendor-neutral technology you’ll be one step ahead.
Stage Two Meaningful Use – Incorporating Medical Images into EMR
It’s not too late to get in on Stage Two Meaningful use by incorporating medical images into your Electronic Medical Records (EMR).
At the end of 2013, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services extended the deadline for health care providers to meet Stage 2 meaningful use requirements for the electronic health records incentive program. Under the revised timeline, Stage 2 will be extended through 2016 and Stage 3 will begin in 2017 for those providers that have completed at least two years in Stage 2, CMS said in a release.
Medical Image Menu Option
While adding medical images to your EMR is a Stage 2 menu option, and not a hard requirement, it’s difficult to understand why any medical facility or healthcare provider would not want to choose the inclusion of medical images as one of their required menu options. To demonstrate meaningful use under Stage 2 criteria, eligible providers must meet seventeen core objectives and three menu objectives that they select from a total list of six for a total of twenty core objectives; eligible hospitals and CAHs must meet sixteen core objectives and three menu objectives that they select from a total list of six, or a total of nineteen core objectives.
The Physicians’ Viewpoint
For their part, most physicians heartily support the opinion that medical imaging is a necessary component of clinical diagnosis and treatment. Furthermore, they tend to agree that the lack of access to imaging studies in the EMR often means that diagnostic imaging is repeated, exposing patients to unnecessary doses of radiation, increasing patient care costs and extending treatment times, and sometimes even delaying referral processes.
However, even though they agree that medical images should be part of their EMR, most healthcare professionals are uncertain just how to go about it. Typically, there has been no easy way to access diagnostic images through the EMR without expensive upgrade or total system replacements. For efficiency reasons many medical professionals are not willing to learn another system just to add diagnostic imaging study viewing. They want a way to access these images seamlessly right within the EMR system that they already use. Since a large percentage of installed EMR software does not offer access to diagnostic imaging studies, this can present a dilemma to anyone hoping to meet this Stage2 menu selection.
Bring Your EMR to Stage 2 Medical Imagery Compliance
If you want to add medical images to your EMR for this Stage 2 menu option compliance, then consider making use of advanced web services and the cloud. Cloud services - like Radiology Services Online(RSO) - provide a linkable cloud module within your existing EMR software, and enable viewing of full DICOM images with one login to your EMR software. By using a zero-footprint viewer, there is no need for downloading the massive images, no concerns about patient privacy and no need to buy additional hardware or install additional software. It doesn’t require a new learning curve, and no user setups, so support requirements are minimal. All images can be stored and archived in the RSO cloud and are available when you need them, and where you need them…in the office, the hospital or from home.
Vendor Neutral Solution
Using an enterprise-wide Medical Imaging Repository that enables vendor-neutral integration with any EMR system and that provides a zero-footprint viewing capability that requires no download is an elegant solution for fulfilling one of the three required menu options for the Stage 2 Meaningful use. It’s simple, it’s efficient, and it’s cost effective.
A PACS Vendor -neutral solution remains current even in environments where PACS and imaging systems may change over time. Because it is subscription based, it is always the current version of software. Because it is standards based, it is not limited to storing proprietary data formats. Cloud systems in general are readily available from any location, anytime; secure and redundant; rapidly scalable; and, support multiple locations and departments.
Make your meaningful use count with the addition of medical images to your EMR.
How to Convert X-Ray Film to Digital
Do you still have X-ray film that needs to be saved? Scanning or digitizing your old X-ray film can help streamline your business and save storage space. When you convert traditional analog film x-rays into a more efficient digital-based approach, you increase your practice’s efficiency by making the studies available via computer or in your PACS. Storing the digitized images in the Cloud – called a WebPACS -- so that they are accessible to authorized users anywhere, anytime adds even more efficiency.
You can scan or digitize x-rays into DICOM, .tif, .jpg or pdf formats, allowing automation of the workflow and information throughout your practice. You save time because you no longer have to hunt for misplaced film, and, you save money duplicating film images or shipping film for second opinions.
The Importance of X-Ray Image Quality
One of the most important considerations for successful XRay film digitization is image quality.
If you plan to purchase an X-ray film digitizer and scan the films yourself, then purchase the best X-ray film scanner you can afford. You will want a digitizer that has clinically proven reliability, image quality, consistency, and overall productivity. The product should be cost effective, lightweight and require little space. Also ask about customer service and support. Vidar, Kodak and Howtek are some of the Xray scanners that are generally considered to meet these crieteria.
If you plan to outsource your Xray film digitizing, then find an outsource firm that has the experience of scanning thousands of Xrays of all types and sizes. They should be able to recognize spots as small as 44mm. They should support most PACS systems and offer direct support of DICOM in order to provide appropriate image compression to avoid bottle necks in imaging.
Proper Disposal of X-Ray Film
Often, when practices decide to convert their X-ray film to digital they neglect to think about what they will do with the film after it’s digitized. You can’t just throw the film away. There are privacy issues as well as EPA regulations regarding proper disposal of X-ray film.
Let’s first consider privacy issues:
- X-rays and other types of radiological images are considered protected health information (PHI). By definition, PHI is health-related information that can identify a person either directly or indirectly. Personal identifiers include name, address, Social Security number, date of birth, and medical record number.
- It is worth emphasizing that while HIPAA's primary privacy concern is health information exchanged or stored electronically, the Privacy Rule also includes data that is transmitted or maintained in any other form or medium. That includes paper records, fax documents and oral communications, and, yes…X-ray film.
Now let’s look at EPA considerations:
- You should contact an X-ray film disposal company so that X-rays can be stripped of their silver in a special chemical wash. Stripping X-rays of their silver is totally safe to the environment. In this process all parts of the X-rays are recycled, including silver, film and paper envelopes. X-rays can also be destroyed according to EPA regulations and burned to recover the silver. However, this releases pollution into the air.
Do It Yourself or Outsource?
While X-ray scanners are readily available, they can be expensive and do require a knowledgeable operator. This is one reason why many practices find it most cost-effective and efficient to outsource their X-ray digitizing. Another advantage is that many X-ray scanning services can also properly dispose of the X-rays for you, freeing you from the worries of HIPAA regulation and EPA concerns.
How Small Hospitals Benefit from Cloud RIS
What is Cloud RIS?
A cloud radiology information system (RIS) is a web-based software system that facilitates the management of medical imagery and associated data. It can be used in conjunction with a picture archiving and communication system (PACS) to manage work flow and billing; or the expensive PACS technology can be eliminated, and the digital imagery can be stored, viewed and manipulated in the Cloud. An RIS is especially useful for managing radiological records and associated data in multiple locations. A Cloud RIS pushes the envelope of efficiency even further. An RIS may be used for:
- Patient management - An RIS can track a patient’s entire workflow within the radiology department; images and reports can be added to and retrieved from electronic medical records (EMRs) and viewed by authorized radiology staff.
- Scheduling - Appointments can be made for both in- and out-patients with specific radiology staff.
- Patient tracking - A patient’s entire radiology history can be tracked from admission to discharge. The history can be coordinated with past, present and future appointments.
- Results reporting - An RIS can generate statistical reports for a single patient, group of patients or particular procedure.
- Film tracking - An RIS can track individual films and their associate data.
- Billing - An RIS facilitates detailed financial record-keeping, electronic payments and automated claims submission.
Put the RIS in the Cloud, and add these benefits:
- Elimination of film
- Improved functionality for physicians
- Increased referrals
- On-line access
- Expert second opinions and long-distance diagnosis
- Radiologist retention
- Faster patient treatment; better patient outcome
- Affiliated physicians can connect from anywhere
- Online scheduling, referrals, and reports
Cloud RIS = More Efficiency for Small Hospitals
A Cloud RIS helps in storing, organizing and retrieving of radiologic data in an automatic fashion. Such a system makes the whole process of records and image storage and retrieval faster and more efficient, while also enabling the information to be transmitted to any other department within the hospital, or outside the hospital as and when necessary.
The workflow and accessibility that Cloud RIS offers enables small and rural hospitals to offer more imaging services, with the advantage of remote reads and diagnosis provided by the experts at larger city hospitals. The small hospital benefits by an increased patient base; the patients benefit by being able to have diagnosis and treatment performed locally, rather than traveling to a larger hospital.
Cloud architecture can improve the small hospital ROI. With today’s economic requirements to increase quality while reducing cost there is much to recommend employing Cloud RIS. The popularity of cloud-based, PACS-neutral archives proves this point.
In addition, Stage 2 Meaningful Use guidelines now include image access and sharing. Small hospitals should consider the funding that is available through this Stage 2 Meaningful use in order to enable Cloud RIS functionality across hospitals, IDNs and health information exchanges. Because storing all the imaging information in an EHR is not a practical, it makes sense to benefit from a web-accessed RIS. Your imaging studies be archived with private, or hybrid, cloud-based technologies in order to save on the local hardware requirements for storage.
Any Cloud RIS should ensure that a high level of security and confidentiality of data is maintained at all times, with data accessible to only to authorized personal having a valid user login and password. The system should maintain a record of who has accessed it, as well as when and where. A radiologist should be able to make specific data available to a consulting or referring physician with a secure, time-expiring link.
How to Start a Mobile Radiology Business
Wouldn’t it be great to own your own business? Wouldn’t it be great to be your own boss? Of course most of us would love to work for ourselves, but many times we find that we are simply not well enough prepared to know if we can actually succeed!
With the Mobile X-ray business, there are a number of factors that you must consider, including your qualifications to run a business, your knowledge of the technology that’s available for mobile x-ray providers and your technical skills as an X-ray provider. Here are questions that you can ask yourself:
- What are your limitations? Are you disciplined enough to be your own boss?
- Is there a need for your mobile radiology where you live, or intend to live?
- What do you need to do to obtain proper business and professional licensure and insurances
- What equipment and supplies do you need to start your mobile X-ray business, and how much will the start-up cost? Do you have, or can you get the funds that you need?
- How long will it take you to recoup your initial investment? How will you be paid for your services and what rules do you need to abide by concerning payment (taxes, etc.).
- Do you have a good attorney, accountant, and radiologist to with which to associate yourself?
- Are you able to create an Operations Manual that defines how you will conduct business
- Are you prepared to accept that you will not know all you need to and that you will need to ask for advice and recognize when plans you’ve put in place are not working—be flexible.
These questions are ones that you will need to ponder over time. For purposes of this article, we’re going to focus on the equipment and the technology that you will need in order to proceed.
Consider that you will need to have a portable x-ray machine. A good machine can run from a few thousand dollars (used) to upwards of $120k (new) depending on the level of technology you plan to aim for. The world of film X-rays has all but disappeared, so you will probably want to go with a digital X-ray machine. This will save you the on-going expense of the supplies required to operate an X-ray film machine, such as film and chemicals.
Equipment to take x-rays is only one part of what you will need. You will also have to have a method for transporting your equipment to each site you will service. A good van or covered truck will be necessary to meet that need, and your X-ray “lab” will need to be fitted into the truck. This will be another high-cost item.
You’ll need paper supplies for requisitions, filing claims, and tracking daily workloads. You’ll need an accounting method to track your expenses and income and a good accountant to ensure that you pay the taxes and manage the income properly. You’ll need to find a certified radiologist to provide readings on your work. This is a challenging task that can be frustrating, but if you think through your personal connections you may find an independent professional reader without having to go with a large and costly reading group. Only you can determine what will work best for you. Last of all, you’ll need a good computer, cell phone, fax machine and possibly your own website to provide communication with clients.
Finally, you’ll need a way to transport the medical images to the radiologist and ordering physicians. For this, a web-based storage, exchange and transport system that is provided as a SaaS (Software as a Service) solution will help to keep your day-to-day costs down while providing an efficient way to store and manage all of your images. A software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution like this provides a Cloud application that replaces the need for expensive PACS equipment.
For more complete information about starting your own mobile X-ray business, download our white paper now.
Mobile Radiology and Imaging – Problems and Solutions
Services that bring trucks with mobile radiology and imaging equipment into institutions such as prisons, and nursing homes require specialized software systems to manage their mobile scheduling and images. Being able to provide these mobile services in an organized and timely fashion is important to these service providers and the communities that they serve.
Providers of mobile radiology services provide institutional as well as rural health centers with a cost-effective means of providing high-end imaging services for their residents and clients.
The four biggest problems that mobile radiology and imaging companies face are: (1) Scheduling; (2) Dispatching; (3) Managing images, records and reports; and, (4) invoicing and billing. Efficient management of these four areas can help to ensure longevity in the competitive mobile radiology industry. One way to improve efficiency is with an Internet-based service that allows the mobile radiology providers to quickly and easily transmit high-quality, diagnostic images and reports to their clients within minutes. Mobile radiology providers consistently report that using a web-based service increases their radiology business through the added efficiencies, while it lowers their expenses and enables them to collect reimbursements more quickly.
Let’s look at just how one web-based software service, Radiology Services Online, has simplified business processes for a mobile radiology firm located in southern Florida that services prisons:
(1) Streamline or eliminate mundane daily administrative tasks - RSO gives this provider a way to put all the pieces the business into one centralized internet accessible hub. In this “hub,” a facility user can log in with their individual credentials and request an exam, see a final report, and manage their imaging and report records while a radiologist user can log in to view the images and provide professional reports on line in minutes. RSO also stores the digitized or digital images and reports for each patient in their system for seven years, so they are readily available for review any time they are needed.
(2) Easily integrate with client’s radiology systems –The RSO zero foot print viewer system allows for images to be viewed either on the web or, for physicians who have an existing PACS system, native studies can be sent directly to any fully functioning PACS system. This enables the mobile radiology provider to communicate with all of their clients easily and efficiently, and the way the client prefers. This versatility has enabled this particular mobile radiology provider to add additional clients.
(3) Faster, more efficient diagnosis -- Physicians have faster and better access to images and reports with RSO's DICOM system, which allows them to make a faster diagnosis. The prisoner patients generally get faster and more effective care, reducing the prisons’ inmate health care management costs.
Radiology Services Online provides the following features to simply business processes:
> Web Login – provides the ability to login securely over the internet, so the mobile radiology provider did not need to buy any additional hardware or software. They simply pay their low monthly subscription cost, which also entitles them to the latest software features at no extra charge.
> Central Order Scheduling -- enables all of the mobile radiology provider’s prison personnel, office personnel and service providers to schedule orders into one central location for easier administration and management.
> Dispatch – the mobile radiology provider or prison administrators send automatic wireless messages for dispatch using an easy to read color coded screen.
> Requisition Form – all of the facilities can login and use professionally formatted requisition forms, or they can be auto-faxed as required.
> Transcription – with the built in transcription service, transcriptionists load patient reports in PDF format or enter information using a standard template. Radiologists save time by making use of the automatically generated professional report as they by enter their findings and conclusions
> Patient Reports – facilities are able to electronically view patient records anywhere, at any time, and avoid the risk of losing paper documents.
> Medical Records -- medical records are centralized in safe, secure computer data storage facilities so it is easy to search for patient reports anywhere, anytime, eliminating wasted time when comparing multiple studies.
> DICOM Images – the facilities and radiologists easily view and manipulate images online with RSO, eliminating the need for expensive VPN hardware and software.
> Claims Billing Selection -- facilities login at any time and make the PPS billing determination, freeing up valuable time for billing administrators.
> PPS Invoicing -- RSO provides a complete PPS billing and receivables system—professional invoices and statements enable the mobile radiology provider to stay on top of payments.
> Reports -- Billing reports enable the management of the day-to-day details of the business, or the mobile radiology provider can get a quick snapshot anytime, by using the Revenue Summary Report. With these real-time reports, the mobile radiology provider can see at a glance anytime just where they stand financially.
For any mobile Radiology and Imaging Provider or other radiologic organization who needs to maintain and track patient information, maintain digital and digitized images, create and issue radiology reports, manage and maintain billing, an Internet-based solution can help redefine the way you do business.
Medical Image Hosting and Transmission
Transmitting medical images from one hospital to another can be time-consuming, cumbersome and expensive. Often duplicate tests are ordered because the imagery hasn’t arrived in a timely fashion. Even with today’s internet technology, hospitals often resort to manual transmission of images because of the perceived issues relating to transmitting medical images via the internet. These issues usually revolve around privacy issues, HIPAA regulations, and the large file size involved with most diagnostic quality digital medical images.
Regardless of these concerns, the Internet, in combination with modern technology and encryption methods helps to speed and simplify the transmission of medical images. Perhaps those who benefit most from these new technologies are small hospitals and rural medical facilities who can use secure medical imaging transmission methods to get immediate help with diagnosis and treatment, rather than needing to send their patients to the nearest big city hospital.
Online Medical Transmission - WebPACS
A Web Picture Archiving and Communication System (WebPACS) can be very easy to use. Since the WebPACS images are accessed via familiar search engines, such as Firefox, Chrome or Internet Explorer, medical personnel can navigate the system to access and transmit images with minimal training and, therefore, with minimal expense. In addition, images are available without download in a Zero Footprint system, which not only speeds viewing, but also ensure privacy because the image never leaves the hosting server.
In addition to being easy to use, a WebPACS also provides easy security options. Since the system contains multiple encryption tiers, supervisors can assign passwords to personnel that authorize them to access isolated images, groups of images, or the entire digital imaging system, depending on their level of security clearance. The excellent encryption system also enables medical personnel to more easily comply with HIPPA regulations by more effectively limiting access to privileged information.
Not only does a WebPACS enhance security with its easy-to-use system, but it also makes data storage much simpler. Because the images in a WebPAC system are hosted on a remote server that is accessed via the Internet, hospital and health care organizations are not required to maintain large storage servers of digital images on site, thus reducing their IT hardware and personnel requirements. Further, because the digital images are backed-up to multiple redundant servers in multiple locations medical records remain recoverable in case of disaster.
The simplicity of the a WebPACS system does not end with these features, however. Once images have been uploaded to the digital imaging system, users may not only view the images, but they may also manipulate the quality of images to enhance brightness, contrast, or zoom. In this way, digital images bear definite advantages over outdated imaging methods and provide medical personnel with greater ability to recognize and diagnose physical issues revealed in digital images. Therefore, the system's ability to allow greater manipulation and enhancement of images can improve both user access and patient diagnosis and treatment.
Perhaps no advantage recommends a WebPACS so highly as its easy image transmission capabilities. Because it is based, not in a major medical center, but in a virtual “Cloud” on the Internet, digital images linked to this system can be transferred between doctors within a specific medical practice, within a geographic vicinity, or anywhere around the world. Small, rural, remote, and mobile medical facilities no longer need to outsource their imaging needs since this system may be accessed by qualified medical personnel anywhere.
Some WebPACS, like Radiology Services Online (RSO) have added benefits including scalability, seamless Integration with DICOM devices like PACS, Modality, Workstations, platform independence, advanced file compression that offers files that are smaller than other lossless technologies with reference to storage and transmission.
The right WebPACS medical imaging solution can help nearly any small hospital or clinic leverage the reach and scope of the Internet and the cost effectiveness of SaaS/Cloud technology with the security of encryption and Zero Footprint technology to bring “big hospital” economies, diagnosis and treatment.
Beyond Meaningful Use for Medical Imagery
In 2013, Stage 2 of meaningful use included a provision for incorporating medical images into Electronic Medical Records (EMR). Radiologists generally approved this addition and informatics professionals have worked to make this stage of meaningful use, well…meaningful.
Healthcare informatics professionals develop the systems required to manage and administer digital health data, including medical records and medical image. These systems are designed to advance clinical work flow, and improve the security of the healthcare system, ultimately improving patient outcomes, and this improvement in patient outcomes is the part of the process that is truly meaningful. When the integration of information science, computer technology, and medicine enables healthcare professionals to collect, organize, and secure and transmit patients’ health–related data, the outcome of patient care is bound to improve.
Computer hardware, specialized software, and communication devices are used together to form complex networks to collect, analyze, and transmit medical processes. The tools for creating health information systems are not limited just to information technology. These systems should also allow for the assimilation of clinical directives, understanding of formal medical jargon, storage of data, and transmission of clear communication. Medical informatics can be applied in all types of health environments, including primary care, general practice, hospital care, and rehabilitation. It is also inclusive of many of the specialties within the healthcare field.
Informatics in Radiology and Medical Imagery
Healthcare informatics help to cut costs and enhance patient care by implementing standardized systems for electronic medical records. The importance of the stage 2 meaningful use inclusion of medical imagery in electronic medical records is shown in improved patient outcomes, as well as financial incentives for eligible professionals and hospitals. These eligible organizations can receive Federal reimbursements provided that 40% of scans and tests resulting in a medical image for patients who are admitted to inpatient or emergency departments are incorporated into certified EHR technology.
One of the issues with including medical imagery in EMR has been the technology requirements that are required to view and transport images. Previously, many organizations never even consider including images in their EMR, because they had already concluded that it couldn’t be done. Objections included: (1) The images are too large and too difficult to store and handle in a central repository; (2) Viewing images means waiting for a time-consuming download of the large image files; (3) Physicians really only need to see the written report – they don’t have to see the actual images. Stage 2 meaningful use provided a strong incentive to overcome these objections and improve patient outcomes.
Previously, it has been assumed that referring physicians—or anyone other than radiologists—don’t need a full set of diagnostic-quality images. However, surgeons and some other referring specialists demand all images for safety reasons, and the inclusion of such images in the EMR does make the transmission of the images faster and easier, as well as virtually eliminating the transfer of wrong images.
One easy way to add medical imagery to an existing EMR is to subscribe to an enterprise-wide Medical Imaging Repository that enables vendor-neutral integration with any EMR system and that provides a zero-footprint viewing capability that requires no download. A system such as this should be PACS Vendor neutral so that it can be used in environments where PACS and imaging systems may change over time. It should be standards based and not limited to storing proprietary data formats. It should support DICOM standards and frameworks. Images should be accessible with a single log-in to the ERM, and readily available from any location, anytime. It should be capable of supporting multiple imaging departments and readily scalable.
Importance of Patient Outcomes – True Meaningful Use
The engagement of patients and their families in patients’ health care has been a prominent goal of Meaningful Use. As the second of five health policy priorities, this policy priority aims to improve patients’ understanding of their health and related conditions so they take a more active role in their health care. It also encourages the involvement of patients’ families, as many patients depend on their support.
With this understanding in mind, it is easy to see the importance of the inclusion of medical imagery in Electronic Medical Records. If a picture is worth a thousand words, what better way to clearly explain a patient’s condition to him and his family? This meaningful use of medical imagery within the EMR helps involve patients and their families in healthcare decisions and care, thus promoting patients’ management of their own health.