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A recent survey shows patients are impatient about getting imaging results, and that result shouldn't surprise anyone. The study, published in the March issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology, was conducted by the department of radiology at Stanford University School of Medicine.
“To achieve an ‘acceptable’ rating from 95 percent of patients, all results would need to be communicated within a few hours,” the authors say.
Are those antsy patients being unreasonable? Not entirely. As the authors point out, patients are looking out for their own health here whether they realize it or not, because “uncertainty caused by the delayed communication of results can also be detrimental to patient health and has been associated with substantial biochemical distress.”
By the same token, patients may not realize how complex an undertaking results reporting can be – particularly when the reading radiologist has to first compare current results from Hospital A to past results archived at Hospital B. Even if Hospital B is local, its IT system may not be interoperable with Hospital A's.
That means the priors will likely be burned to a CD and transferred by courier or express mail. That alone could add as much as a day or more to the process.
This inconvenience and inefficiency can be avoided if two providers that need to share images use a cloud-based system like eMix. Then the transfer can take place with a few keystrokes, in a matter of minutes.
Radiologists rate poorly in the survey as results communicators. Why? As the American College of Radiology (ACR) has found, 50 percent of patients don't realize that radiologists are physicians. Given that context, it doesn't surprise the study authors that more patients would rather learn results from the referring physician.
And here again is where eMix can make a difference. eMix can greatly speed up diagnosis when priors from other facilities are involved. Because speed makes a difference to so many patients, the authors believe it creates an opportunity for radiologists to become more visible members of patients' healthcare teams.
There's money to be made when these barriers come down, too. The authors cite longitudinal studies suggesting that referral volume tends to increase when radiologists and technologists report results to patients quickly. That being the case, “Short-term costs of direct communication are much less than the long-term effects of remaining invisible,” the authors surmise.
To read the full article on which this post was based, click here.
The average turnaround time for results reporting by an academic radiology department is 33 hours, they write. Average report turnaround time at Stanford, the authors' institution, is better – about 18 hours. But that's still too long from the respondents' point of view.
The most recent issue of Imaging Technology News describes the security challenges inherent with cloud-based services for sharing of medical images and reports.
The essence of the piece is captured by the subtitle: “Feeling Secure About Security.” The article is by Katherine Leslie, B.S., RDMS, CRA, RT, (R) (CT), who is imaging services director at Central Peninsula Hospital (CPH) in Soldotna, Alaska.
An early adopter of eMix, CPH is an authoritative source on healthcare IT, having been named one of the nation's “Most Wired Hospitals and Health Systems” for 2010 by Hospitals and Health Networks.
Katherine Leslie notes the reasons that tight security is crucial for cloud-based information sharing. But she also points out that many facilities currently share healthcare data via virtual private networks (VPNs).
Those setups create security issues that don't apply to any cloud-based service. A VPN is essentially a pipe between two facilities, Leslie writes. Through that pipe, other hospitals can view unrelated data on the other end. Cloud-based services only provide access to files of interest.
The security criteria that CPH required eMix to meet included:
• Protection against malicious penetration of the network. Multiple firewalls to independently protect the content and database servers. Intrusion detection monitoring 24/7.
• Data encryption. To make intercepted data unreadable – for example, data transmission using SSL (Secure Sockets Layer).
• Data redundancy. Protecting against data loss with redundant data on content servers, database servers, and Web-servers.
• Limited access at member institutions. Service is only available to verified users at authorized institutions.
• Data tracking and recovery. Dependable, multiple means for recovering data in event of loss.
• Protection against malicious recipients. Identify verification for all new recipients of electronically shared data.
• Information security agreement. “Infosec” agreement or interactive disassembler (IDA) between customer facility and information exchange vendor.
Leslie advises facilities to insist that any vendor they use for cloud-based data exchange meet every one of these criteria. eMix passed that test, which is a primary reason – besides its track record of successful use – that CPH went with it. You can read the entire article here.
Copyright© 2009-2013 DR Systems, Inc. All rights reserved. eMix is a trademark of DR Systems, Inc. with various product modules protected by one or more of U.S. Patent # 7,660,488; 7,787,672; 7,885,440; 7,953,614; 7,970,625; 8,019,138; 8,094,901, and other patents pending. Specifications are subject to change without notice.