A Perfect Fit: Uniting Medical Imaging & Patient Engagement

Instead of seeing health reform as a challenge, our own Cristine Kao, global market director for HCIS at Carestream, believes it is an opportunity to improve what we are doing in healthcare on a day-to-day basis. That opportunity for improved care is being led by the patients, who are becoming increasingly involved in the monitoring and management of their own care.

In the video below produced by Intel Healthcare, Kao explains why patients are becoming more involved in their care, how medical imaging fits into the mix, and what Carestream’s MyVue patient portal offers to complement this trend.

The portal empowers patients to access, share and help manage their own images and exam data using a range of user-friendly browser-enabled devices. It allows real-time collaboration between patients and healthcare providers – helping to eliminate the need for duplicate exams and the production of CDs, DVDs or films.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nRqdD41XRVI?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

Moving Forward in Carestream PACS Upgrades

We have an eXceed corporate commitment to our customers at Carestream that promises them that “our focus is your success.” One of the four components in this commitment is outstanding. This refers to delivering to outstanding performance to our customers–both through our service and through our products.

Innovation is vital to providing this outstanding performance. We must be sure that out products are addressing our customers’ need and allowing them to provide the best care possible to patients.

With our PACS, the next phase of our upgrade will include 64-bit computing. Over the last couple of years, some impressive improvements have been made to scanners that have created large volumes of images that need to be processed online. To address this, Carestream has made the decision to migrate our workstation platform and the server platform into full 64-bit support, allowing our customers to handle those larger data sets seamlessly.

Our director of R&D for PACS, Seffi Markov, explains more in the video below.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kTvIhawmUw]

HIMSS 2013: Radiology’s Place in the Healthcare IT World

Robert Salmon

Robert Salmon, Carestream Health

Radiology IT has left the radiology space and joined the hospital healthcare IT space according to Jim Knaub, editor of Radiology Today, one of the industry’s leading resources on the topic. At HIMSS ‘13, radiology can be a forgotten topic, left in the dust thanks to more prominent topics such as EMRs, IT infrastructure, etc.. But there is a new phase beginning in the profession.

Knaub stated that radiologists are starting to request more information besides what is captured. They are starting to see information besides the images, such as reports and data, starting to flow back to the radiology departments across the IT enterprise network. The thought is that they have the medical images, but if they had better patient histories—all of the data that may exist in an EMR or EHR, for example— radiologists could better interpret medical imaging exams. While this proposition may not be on the table now, Knaub feels it is coming down the road.

Knaub went on to explain that radiology departments should be pressuring IT departments about the flow and access of information throughout the healthcare enterprise. IT needs to be more accessible across networks because there are increasingly more radiologists not onsite to read X-ray exams. If radiologists can’t walk down the hall to consult with someone, the technologies to communicate and share information remotely must be present within the enterprise.

It’s a tough problem to solve, but being able to communicate with everyone you work with will be the key to success in the space.

You can watch the complete interview with Jim Knaub below, and you can follow Radiology Today on Twitter to gain access to its insightful coverage on the radiology profession.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Bhj5xlWbys?rel=0]

HIMSS 2013: Talking VNAs & Other IT Trends with Brian Casey of AuntMinnie.com

Cristine Kao

Cristine Kao, Global Marketing Manager, Healthcare IT, Carestream

Vendor Neutral Archives (VNAs) was a trendy topic at HIMSS13, and we at Carestream can attest to that popularity. To provide an explanation behind this trend, I sat down with Brian Casey, editor in chief for AuntMinnie.com. When approaching this offering from a radiological perspective, Casey saw VNAs as the most important topic at the trade show. He said it seemed as if everyone in the medical imaging field was either promoting either a new VNA or updates to an existing one.

Being driven by the IT departments, Casey said that data silos are no longer viable in today’s healthcare landscape. It is no longer just the radiologists who need access to those images, so they better be archived in a format that is usable by multiple offices and facilities.

While there are some people who are a bit uneasy of about the security and access surrounding these images, many companies that are providing VNAs are saying that the benefits outweigh the risks. Universal viewers are providing easier access to these images and this access is now available throughout the enterprise, effectively breaking down walls that commonly exist between departments.

Casey and I also discussed the results of the 2013 HIMSS Leadership Survey, which includes details surrounding the most important issues in healthcare IT. Executives identified staffing as the biggest concern for the second year in a row, saying that the ability to hire the right talent served as a barrier to accomplishing their IT goals. While this seems concerning, Casey went on to describe that there is more stability in the healthcare IT workforce that this statistic leads on.

The video below shows our conversation in its entirety.

What topics did you find as being the most important at HIMSS13 this year? Which ones were the most beneficial to your job or organization?

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ArzmTSOi8T0?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

Patient Engagement – A Healthcare Reform Topic Everyone Can Agree On

Carestream CMO

Norman Yung, Chief Marketing Officer, Carestream

Information is power, but only when used and applied. It is this principle that has healthcare providers (and even politicians) finding rare agreement on one aspect of the polarizing health care reform landscape in the U.S. The common ground is that patient engagement measures have the potential to be one of the most transformative aspects impacting quality of care.

Changing provider behavior to give patients transparent access to their health care information will advance the consumerized health care model where patients are more informed and involved in the direction of their care.

Yet at the end of 2012, health care news headlines lit up with provider concerns about patient engagement measures. Like this story, “CMS official: We might revisit Meaningful Use patient engagement rules,” which indicated that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services may reconsider its requirements for patient engagement in Meaningful Use Stage 2 if complying proves too onerous for care providers.

Lowering measures for patient engagement—which will likely do more to reduce health care costs and improve outcomes than almost anything else—would be a mistake and a disservice to patients. Measures like those outlined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are necessary to drive timely change. And each part of the Stage 2 patient engagement measures compels providers to deliver timely access to patient information and enable that information to be shared.

There is a manageable path to patient engagement and it is gaining ground. Let us take a look at patient engagement motivators and health impact in one clinical specialty: radiology.

New patient portals are being deployed that allow patients to easily and securely download their X-ray exams, review the diagnosis on the radiology report, and share that information with physicians, specialists or others of their choosing. Being able to access both the diagnostic report and the images is vital because this is the starting point for treatment decisions by physicians.

Consider the case of a student athlete whose team physician has been monitoring a knee injury through the season with a series of MRIs. While the athlete previously had relied on the physician to use the images and the radiology report to determine treatment, a patient portal allows the student athlete to engage other physicians as desired or use the information to make their own decisions about physical therapy and surgical options.

Another key benefit of a patient portal is that it can play an important role in reducing the likelihood of unnecessary testing since second opinions can be obtained from viewing the original digital imaging exam. This process can help reduce radiation exposure for the patient and can help lower the costs associated with repeat radiology exams.

Houston Medical Imaging, Inc., an innovative network of diagnostic imaging centers in Texas, tested this technology and reports that patients immediately embraced the portal, which is accessible from their web site. Enabling access to information helps patients feel included and trusted by their doctors. In fact, it lets them partner with their doctors in the management of their health care and further strengthens the physician-patient bond which is a critical foundation for achieving improved outcomes.

A similar patient portal test at Lagosanto Hospital, a large, public health facility in Italy that performs more than 150,000 X-ray exams each year, revealed that the majority of patients were so happy with electronic access to their radiology images that 98% of them chose to continue using the radiology portal.

Informed patients are empowered patients. As physicians’ use of information sharing technology continues to grow, and if the commitment to patient engagement remains steadfast and free from political or bureaucratic entanglements, I am confident we will see proof of how technology can support the vital human connection that is at the core of quality health care.

HIMSS 13: It’s More Than Just The Technology

Robert Salmon

Robert Salmon, Carestream Health

How many times have we heard someone at places we do business with announce that “we are bringing on a new system…” in a tone that portends imminent doom and the demise of their organization.

The selection and adoption of new technology is often viewed in the same light as being devoured by alien life forms—sometimes even by those of us whose passions and livelihoods are dedicated to the design and evolution of technology for the greater common good of society. And yet when the implementation of a new IT system is successfully completed, we wonder how we ever survived without this new incarnation and soon become its greatest ambassador.

Former President Bill ClintonIn a brilliantly delivered presentation on “Trending Health: Using Information Technology to Deliver Clinical Outcomes” during the HIMSS ’13 conference, Dr. Manuel Lowenhaupt discussed how healthcare IT is “foundational to transforming healthcare and essential to leveraging better clinical outcomes.” He described that for many healthcare facilities, the path to deriving the greatest patient benefits from new healthcare IT systems is often a multi-year journey and is about much more than just the latest IT systems.

He went on to say that culture is at the core of such change and very often, the bigger the organization the bigger the challenge. If the culture is one where there is a genuine commitment to keeping care sacred and free from internal politics, then the process has a much higher likelihood of success, and the journey can be one of excitement and continuous learning that sets the stage for significant improvement in how care is delivered. A new healthcare IT system that stands the test of time is only part or the challenge. A culture of “making it easy to do the right thing” can direct people to a common goal that leads to successful adoption.

In his keynote address at HIMSS ’13, President William J. Clinton opened by saying that “healthcare information technology and how we manage it is critical to healthcare in the 21st century.” He provided examples of how his foundation is playing a global role in improving the lives of millions of people around the world. Citing numerous examples of how IT systems can increase access to care, lower costs, and improve the quality and deliver of care, he emphasized that “these are exciting times and it’s what you do that matters.”

What are you doing that will pave the way for successful adoption of new technologies? Is your organization culturally ready for change?

HIMSS 2013: Talk of the Town in New Orleans

Author: Rich Pulvino, Social Media & Digital Media Specialist, Carestream

HIMSS13 is the first trade show I’ve ever attended in my brief career, and let me just say that future shows will have a lot to live up to if they wish to compete with this one. In addition to its sheer size, HIMSS has attracted the most intelligent minds in healthcare IT, allowing it to serve as a think tank for where this industry will head in the next year, three years, and even five years. Based on day one’s keynote by Ochsner’s Warner Thomas, it’s clear that healthcare IT is leading the charge when it comes to the evolution of healthcare in our country, but healthcare IT can’t do it alone. It takes collaboration, understanding, and optimism from organizations if they are to truly be the appropriate healthcare provider of the future–one that provides patients with high-quality, affordable care.

himss13Throughout the first two days of HIMSS, there have been a plethora of buzzwords bouncing around the walls of the convention center. That’s not to say that these words are spoken so much that they’ve lost all meaning, but from the volume of conversation surrounding them, it’s clear what the most important topics are here at HIMSS.

Meaningful Use: This is probably the most common phrase that has been spoken among the HIMSS crowd. With EHRs and EMRs being adopted among organizations, a wide variety of vendors present, and the looming incentives healthcare organizations stand to gain, it’s a no brainer that you can hear this phrase uttered wherever you go. HIMSS has even created a Meaningful Use showcase that allows vendors to show customers and prospects how they are helping organizations meet Meaningful Use requirements. Carestream is one of many vendors participating in that showcase, and it’s truly impressive to see just how many providers are out there working to make Meaningful Use a reality in healthcare.

Big Data: This one is kind of tied to the Meaningful Use phrase. Warner Thomas mentioned in his keynote how retailers are using big data to understand the shopping behaviors of their customers and healthcare should be doing the exact same thing. With moving to the digital realm, there are petabytes of data available to healthcare providers that allow them to understand healthcare trends and patterns among patients in a way that will can provide more efficient and higher quality care. Imagine if a hospital was able to diagnose a condition for a patient based on similar symptoms and patterns recognized by combing big data of other patients (anonymously) throughout a state or region. It’s possible, and it’s currently being put into practice today.

Patient Engagement: Yesterday was “Patient Engagement Day” HIMSS and for good reason–this initiative is seen as being the key to improving the quality of delivered healthcare. This phrase is often tied to Meaningful Use and being able to provide patients with access to their EHRs, which is actually a requirement of Meaningful Use Stage 2 stating that 5% of patients must be able to access their records. But patient engagement is so much more than EHR access. It involves access to healthcare providers, being able to communicate freely with medical professionals in a way that enlightens the patient, and allows providers to deliver better care. Patient portals play a huge role in this, because it allows patients to have the access to their healthcare providers, and delivers their own healthcare information that hey should be allowed to see whenever they want. This has been a huge initiative for Carestream with the launch of MyVue and the successful trials we’ve seen with it in the medical imaging space. It’s no surprise that this trend continues to grow in popularity.

Health IT Security: No surprise here, but with so much data becoming digital, and more providers hosting this data via cloud environments, security of this information is increasing in importance. HIPAA and HITECH has set security mandates for providers so that patient data can be protected, but it remains an ever-changing field because as the threats evolve, so must the security technologies. There are numerous vendors at HIMSS that are showing off their cloud and storage capabilities while simultaneously showing attendees the technologies and steps that are taken to ensure that data remains secure, yet still accessible to those who need it. It’s a as instinct trend to follow, and one that will only become more important as more healthcare providers step into the digital world.

While there are many more buzzwords and phrases being talked about at HIMSS–mHealth, cloud computing, ACOs, Affordable Care Act, ICD-10, etc.–these we’re the four that I’ve personally been coming across most often.

What topics have you found to be the most interesting at HIMSS13? As we move into day three, what has been your favorite moment of the event so far?

HIMSS 2013: Day 1 Keynote – Optimism and Collaboration are Vital to the Future Healthcare

Author: Rich Pulvino, Social Media & Digital Media Specialist

HIMSS Keynote

As described in the HIMSS13 guide, Warner Thomas is focused on addressing the changes initiated in the Affordable Care Act and health insurance reformation. His organization, Ochsner, is an eight-hospital, nonprofit, academic, multi-specialty healthcare delivery system. Prior to his role as CEO, he held the position of president and COO, leading the organization’s effort in building its own hospital system by acquiring six hospitals, which led to Ochsner’s current status.

In his HIMSS13 keynote address on day one of the conference, Thomas spent a bit time talking about the city of New Orleans and the state of revival and improvement it has been in since Hurricane Katrina hit. As devastating as the storm was, he touched on how it served as an impetus of change for the city, which is currently thriving. The city’s public schools were in poor shape before the storm. Now, New Orleans is a national model for education reform based on its large volume of charter schools. Thomas likened this change to what he is seeing in healthcare and IT throughout the city and state too.

Thomas’s focus on healthcare IT started with a comparison to the airline industry, which went through massive changes in the last decade compared to its state in the 1990’s. The number of people who fly increased dramatically, yet the number of people employed in the airline industry decreased by about 10,000. In a way, that’s what happening with healthcare—more care is needed for more people (especially as the baby boomers enter and approach retirement), yet there are fewer people providing the care. That’s where healthcare IT comes in.

For success to be seen in healthcare IT, and healthcare as a whole, collaboration and optimism is a must. Healthcare organizations cannot bury their heads in the sand if they hope to address the changes, because these changes are going to happen whether they like it or not. To show how technology can lead the charge, in addition to the airlines, Thomas brought up comparisons to the banking and retail industries–both which addressed changes by focusing on online technologies and being where the consumers are. Airlines now allow people to register for flights and print out their boarding passed themselves; ATMs and online banking allow people to fulfill their banking needs without waiting in line for a teller, and retailers now rely on big data related to purchasing behaviors so that they can understand their customers and provide them with the products or services that they need most.

When talking about healthcare, Thomas has noticed that patients want three things: more mobile access, faster care, and more affordable care. He asked why patients aren’t signing into clinics and physician offices with a tablet so that they can enter their medical history and allow it easily be stored. Electronic medical records and access to those records will be a major component of that change. With the Affordable Care Act serving as change agent to the industry, Thomas called for medical professionals to have greater access to insurance claims data so that they have more complete patient information. He said that in today’s healthcare industry, if a patient goes to another clinic, then the insurance claim should be updated automatically.

Thomas left his keynote with a big, yet vital, challenge to healthcare IT executives: Learn what your patients want and provide it to them, while cutting costs and improving the quality care. That may seem like a mouthful, but with insurance and healthcare costs rising with no end in sight, this is exactly the kind of change that needs to happen. Technology is leading the charge for this change and it is up to IT to collaborate with other departments to ensure that these new systems are providing patients with the affordable, quality care that they deserve.

[INFOGRAPHIC] HIMSS 2013: The Need for Patient Access & Patient Portal Adoption

Cristine Kao

Cristine Kao, Global Marketing Manager, Healthcare IT, Carestream

Patient engagement and patient portals continue to be a hot discussion topic wherever you look in the healthcare IT field. With HIMSS13 starting next week, there’s no better time and place than here and now—to stick with the event’s theme—to discuss these trends and why attention must be turned toward the patients.

In addition to meeting meaningful use requirements, the access that patients have to their medical records and their healthcare providers continues to show two major positives:

  • Patients are receiving better care from healthcare providers
  • Patients are taking a more invested interest in their own health

Based on the research we collected for the infographic in the slides below, which are available for download, we’re seeing that patients are gaining more access to their medical records, but a majority of healthcare providers still have a long way to go. Those health facilities that implement patient engagement technologies are seeing benefits, both on the patient satisfaction and financial fronts.

With our own MyVue portal, we’ve seen positive results from two trials we’ve conducted with Houston Medical Imaging and Ferrara Hospital in Italy. Simply put, patients enjoy being kept in the loop about their health, whether that involves their medical records or medical images. It is now up the healthcare industry to heed the patients’ requests for better healthcare access through technologies.

HIMSS 2013: Radiology IT Undergoing Radical Changes and Meaningful Use is Just the Beginning (Part II of II)

Doug Rufer

Doug Rufer, Director Technical Marketing and Clinical Sales Engineering, Carestream

The following post is part two of “Radiology IT Undergoing Radical Changes and Meaningful Use is Just the Beginning.” Part one provided a look at the shifting priorities of HealthIT to address Meaningful Use and how radiology IT will also need to adapt to these trends or risk being left behind.

The following paragraphs expand on the ideas presented in part one by diving into what Meaningful Use can mean for radiology IT and the changes that radiologists will have to make to appropriately address the ever-evolving trends.

Healthcare IT and Meaningful Use

This is where Meaningful Use sets the foundation to help address the issues radiology departments regularly face.  If you consider the past, radiation exposure (and dose) capture may have been tracked but it remained within the confines of radiology – and most likely not documented as part of the patient history since few RIS or PACS solutions of the past provided capabilities to track this information, let alone the modalities ability to provide the output automatically.  Today, radiology IT solutions may provide fields to track this information; but can they calculate patient dose based on individual modality output and site specified dose formulas?  Probably not yet.  Looking at the future, this must change.  Radiology IT solutions must provide the ability to capture exposure output information from a given modality and calculate patient dose based on the site’s specific formulas.  Once captured and calculated, a solution must be able to provide a cumulative view of a patient’s dose.  Finally, this information must be passed to a health information exchange which will become part of a patient’s longitudinal and lifetime record and shared between health systems when patients move around.  But first, as an industry, we must set standards for this to occur.  Hence, this is where Meaningful Use steps in.

Standards are being set today, although in a controlled fashion over time.  Dose standards need to be established.  Once they do, capture and sharing must occur.  Finally, decision support rules need to be established at both the local and national level to assist caregivers in determining the best outcomes for a patient regardless of where they are seeking treatment.

Meaningful Use is attempting to establish the framework for this to occur, hence the importance for the radiology community to embrace it and begin planning for its implementation.  Stage 1 sets the stage for data capture; Stage 2 sets the stage for data sharing and access to information; and stage 3 and beyond focuses on decision support and outcomes.  But to be truly effective, new technologies need to be developed to aid radiologists in this patient-centric shift as we move forward.

Better IT Equals Better Change

For radiology to succeed in this patient centric model a few things need to occur:

1)  Radiologists need better collaboration tools from their IT vendors to communicate with referring physicians and patients.  Report turn-around time is important but rapid communication will become of the stronger focus in the future.  Radiologists need methods of their IT solutions to provide these collaborative tools so they can effectively communicate with patients as well as their referring physicians as rapidly as possible.  Focus will shift to communication from today’s static diagnostic report – although, this will still be an important part of the overall record.

2)  Business intelligence tools are a necessity.  How can you manage a business going forward without real-time information?  Providers need to understand how and why things are happening within their practice immediately.  Compiling data and reviewing on a historical perspective causes business to operate in a reactive mode.  Better business intelligence tools of the future will allow radiology practices to anticipate problems and take corrective action before they occur.  Understanding your practice real-time allows you to ultimately provide better care, quicker – which ultimately improves outcomes and in this changing environment, your profitability.

3)  Access to information is key.  As a radiologist, one can no longer focus on patient symptoms but must focus on the patient.  To do this, radiology IT needs to be more connected to have access to more information.  More importantly, alerts from decision support tools can assist radiologists to consider conditions in a patient’s record that they may never have considered or had access to in the past.  Access to patient information and moving beyond patient symptoms may alter patient treatment protocols, which will ultimately affect patient outcomes.

As radiology moves to this patient centric model, practices must analyze their workflow, policies and procedures, and business operations (hence the need for the business intelligence tools) and make adjustments today to allow them to remain profitable and successful in the future, all the while improving overall patient care.

The Future Is Now

“Health IT: Right Time: Right Place: It’s On”.  HIMSS 2013 is just around the corner and the focus is clear.  We are experiencing an evolution in healthcare IT today and we must all embrace the changes.  As you consider your strategy moving forward, continue to challenge your vendors and their solutions to assure you they are keeping pace with the trends facing healthcare.  Meaningful Use is a catalyst driving this change and vendors like Carestream are uniquely positioned to offer organizations solutions that will embrace these changes; offering solutions to real problems you are facing today and will face in the future, not one-off departmentalized “products” that will limit your organization as you adapt your enterprise imaging strategy for the future.