Explore our Topics:

Overcoming imaging silos with integrated technologies

By harnessing emerging technologies, healthcare orgs can eliminate medical imaging silos and improve efficiency and interoperability.
By admin
Nov 28, 2023, 6:14 PM

Eliminating Multiple Medical Imaging Silos: A Strategic Approach to Integrated Healthcare

In the healthcare sector, the issue of siloed imaging solutions has long been an impediment to efficiency and interoperability. Imaging services, critical in diagnosis and treatment, have traditionally been compartmentalized, catering specifically to departments like Radiology, Cardiology, Women’s Health Services, Surgery, and Pathology. The existence of these isolated systems presents a host of challenges that healthcare Chief Information Officers (CIOs) are struggling to address in a landscape that is becoming increasingly integrated.

Navigating the complexities of imaging silos

The primary challenge lies in the siloed nature of imaging solutions. Each department’s imaging system is often designed with a narrow focus, creating barriers to cross-departmental data access and collaboration. As the volume of imaging data balloons, the infrastructure required to manage it becomes more complex and costly.

In an effort to streamline the management of disparate imaging systems across different departments, CIOs often turn to a strategy of data consolidation. This strategy typically involves centralizing the storage of imaging data from various sources into a single, unified repository known as a Vendor Neutral Archive (VNA). A VNA is designed to store images in a standard format with a standard interface, making it easier to access and share imaging data across various systems and departments. The intention behind this approach is to simplify data management, enhance accessibility, and improve collaboration among healthcare professionals.

However, while a VNA can indeed centralize data storage, it doesn’t necessarily solve all the inefficiencies or costs associated with managing imaging data. Specifically, this strategy does not fully address the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). Organizations find themselves still entangled with separate workflows and multiple access points for different clinical and reading groups.

In the sphere of Radiology, the complexities are magnified. Health systems typically contract with various physician groups for reading and executing radiologic procedures, which leads to discrete access points and workflows. This fragmentation is further complicated when incorporating outsourced services, such as nighthawk reading, which require stringent management to maintain compliance and security.

Harnessing emerging tech to unify imaging workflows

The good news is that the advent of innovative technologies offers promising solutions to these entrenched problems. Advances in intelligent workflow orchestration — more than mere automation, orchestration intelligently assigns for expertise and efficiency —  and streaming clients (web-based technology that pushes pixels to the user in near real-time with no installs or plug-ins) are at the forefront of this transformation. These technologies facilitate a more intelligent distribution of imaging exams to radiology reading groups, thereby optimizing efficiency, and cutting costs associated with data movement. Additionally, these advances afford a strategic advantage by enabling different radiology groups to access data without the need to duplicate data storage, thus enhancing security.

The evolution of workflow orchestration tools is an exciting development in healthcare technology. By employing sophisticated algorithms and deep learning, these tools can assign imaging studies to the most appropriate, available radiologist, taking into account various factors as determined by the healthcare organization, such as subspecialty expertise, workload balancing, shift schedule, and turnaround time requirements. This orchestration is pivotal in streamlining processes, reducing wait times for readings, optimizing productivity, and supporting the efficient delivery of patient care..

Moreover, the burgeoning field of streaming technologies plays a crucial role in this ecosystem. These technologies allow for near real-time access to imaging data without the necessity of data transfer, which is both time-consuming and resource intensive. A noteworthy innovation in this domain comes from AGFA HealthCare, which has developed an enterprise imaging (EI) streaming client that serves multiple imaging modalities. This enables healthcare organizations to deploy a single streaming client for various imaging services – including Radiology, Cardiology, Surgery, Photography, and Point-of-Care Ultrasound (POCUS) – through one service infrastructure.

The benefits of these consolidated Enterprise Imaging (EI) streaming clients are multifaceted. Not only do they offer financial efficiency by simplifying the IT infrastructure, but they also reduce the complexity and efforts required by IT staff to manage the systems. Consequently, the TCO of the enterprise-wide imaging operations becomes clearer and more manageable.

The integration of intelligent workflow orchestration and advanced streaming technologies presents a viable and revolutionary solution to the challenge of imaging silos in healthcare. As these technologies continue to evolve and integrate, they promise a more connected, efficient, and cost-effective future for medical imaging services. The key to successful implementation lies in the strategic deployment of these technologies, ensuring that they are aligned with the overarching goals of healthcare organizations: to deliver high-quality care, maintain financial sustainability, and promote seamless interoperability among different service lines. The shift from siloed to streamlined imaging is not just a technological upgrade but a paradigm shift towards integrated healthcare.

Show Your Support


Newsletter Logo

Subscribe to our topic-centric newsletters to get the latest insights delivered to your inbox weekly.

Enter your information below

By submitting this form, you are agreeing to DHI’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.