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Improving medical imaging access to enhance patient experience

Updating medical imaging interoperability can improve patient experience, and in turn improve healthcare organizations’ bottom line.
By admin
Dec 19, 2023, 8:45 AM

Medical imaging plays a pivotal role in the diagnosis and treatment of various medical conditions. However, the process of sharing these images with patients and healthcare providers has often been cumbersome, resulting in unnecessary hurdles and challenges and negatively impacting patients’ experiences.

Medical imaging interoperability stuck in the past

One of the primary challenges in the realm of medical imaging is the complex process of sharing images between patients, ordering physicians, and imaging centers. Traditionally, this has involved the use of physical CDs containing the images.

Unfortunately, this method not only appears outdated in the current digital age, but is inconvenient for patients. Patients are often burdened with the task of physically obtaining and transporting these CDs between the imaging center and their primary care and specialist physicians, which hampers both their convenience and overall experience.

Another significant challenge in medical imaging is the intricacy involved in data sharing.

Oftentimes, healthcare organizations will have to set up privileges and business agreements, and once they do, images will need to be transmitted and reconciled within their Electronic Medical Records (EMRs). This requires connecting the study series in the Picture Archiving and Communications System (PACS) to the ordering physician’s medical record or creating an encounter to link portal access to the images in primary care and specialist settings, along with the attachment of reports. If this cannot happen, then often times it leads to duplicate imaging being performed on the patient.

This cumbersome process and overall lack of interoperability can potentially lead to delayed treatments and affect the delivery of care.

Why patient experience matters

When interoperability falls short, it not only disrupts the healthcare workflow but also negatively impacts patient satisfaction. Patient experience is a critical factor that healthcare providers cannot afford to overlook. A positive patient experience translates into patient loyalty and retention, which directly affects the bottom line of healthcare organizations. Patients who have a positive experience are more likely to return for future care needs and recommend the healthcare facility to others.

Innovative Solutions

To address interoperability challenges and enhance patient experience, these solutions are available:

Streamlined Portal Access

Most PACS, including AGFA Healthcare Enterprise Imaging, offer the capability to provide portal access to images through a simple URL link. The key is to automate this process, ensuring that patients receive a link to their images within a reasonable time frame after results have been sent to the ordering physician for follow-up. This approach not only simplifies the process for patients but also facilitates faster access to critical information.

These links act as a convenient and secure digital bridge between doctors, patients, and medical images, so that they have the information at their fingertips to help them make informed decisions. This user-friendly approach also extends to attaching any relevant reports or additional details related to these images, further streamlining the process, and enhancing the overall patient experience.

Imaging Networks

Establishing an imaging network can be a game-changer in streamlining the access to imaging studies, particularly in cases involving high-volume referrals. By creating a network of healthcare facilities that share images seamlessly, the need to burn and hand out physical CDs to patients can be significantly reduced. This not only benefits the referral network but also enhances patient satisfaction by minimizing their efforts in receiving care.

The implementation of these solutions can yield numerous benefits, ultimately enhancing the patient experience in the realm of medical imaging. A study conducted at UC Health Aurora found that 89% of patients who were able to access their imaging results online reported a positive experience. In addition, 71.6% of patients with the ability to access their images online reported an increased level of trust in their healthcare providers and 82.9% of patients reported an increase in their understanding of their medical condition when they had access to their images.

By implementing solutions such as streamlined portal access and imaging networks, healthcare providers can improve patient satisfaction and trust. It is clear that the future of medical imaging lies in embracing technology and innovative practices to make these essential images more accessible and patient-friendly.

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