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The Holistic Patient Health Record: Image-Enabling the EHR

by Morris Panner, CEO, DICOM Grid

Here’s a fact that may come as a surprise: According to an IBM Global Technology Outlook report, medical images are projected to require 30% of the world’s storage and could soon represent 10% of all of U.S. healthcare costs--about 1.5% of US GDP.  That’s a lot of storage, and one whopper of a price tag.

Provider demand for streamlined, intuitive medical imaging services is heating up.  According to a recent study, 67% of providers cite image sharing as a critical priority; 88% of providers identify receiving medical images from other sites as the most important problem to solve through image sharing.  Though providers access images differently, the greatest demand for medical imaging is via the electronic health record.  With an image-enabled EHR, providers have access to critical patient data that can not only save lives, but also improve care coordination and provide a platform for innovation. 

Just five years ago, this was nearly impossible. Fast-forward to today, and the solutions are in reach for every provider, large and small. The big question on everyone’s minds is, how?  How does image management fit into their EHR? This is where things get cloudy--in a good way.

U.S. hospital mergers and acquisitions are at their highest rate since 1999, and today’s patients may find themselves moving through several different locations—imaging centers, primary care, and surgical units--rather than completing every test at one large hospital. At the same time, many physicians feel trapped by onsite hardware and silo-ed systems that can’t communicate with one another.  The cloud can provide a unified solution by giving healthcare organizations a customizable framework through which to transmit images over the Internet. A cloud management suite can provide seamless access to data within the EHR, universal viewing capabilities, and scalable disaster recovery solutions. In fact, 68% providers in the aforementioned study believe cloud networks are the ideal technology to facilitate the sharing of image files. All EHRs have the ability to create custom URLs or links within the patient record.  DICOM Grid, for instance, has a simple specification for the custom links, which enables the EHR to create and embed an encrypted image link using native tools. Consolidating imaging within the EHR eliminates the need to login to separate systems and toggle between browsers. Instead, users authenticate seamlessly, and a feature-rich, zero-footprint medical image viewer launches automatically. A best-in-class viewer can also be accessed via mobile from an iPhone or iPad.

Image enabling the EHR allows physicians easy access to patient imaging, reducing duplicate test orders and radiation exposure. A cloud-based platform also allows providers to place and receive an order, as well as search archived imaging for all previous imaging associated with a particular patient across their network. The results of image-enabling the EHR are manifold: access to life-saving information, opportunities to coordinate care, lower costs, and lesser complexity associated with this growing industry.  For more information on image enabling the EHR, see our Holistic Patient Health Record eBook.

Morris Panner is CEO at DICOM Grid. He leads its mission to build the next generation diagnostic imaging platform and enable higher quality, more cost effective healthcare. Morris is an active voice in enterprise and cloud software focused on the services and healthcare verticals. He has served as the Chair of the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) and is a frequent contributor to business, healthcare and technology forums and publications including Forbes, Washington Post, HITECH Answers, and Becker’s Hospital Review. Prior to DICOM Grid, Morris built and sold an industry-leading business process software company, OpenAir, to NetSuite (NYSE:N). He has a BA from Yale University and a JD from Harvard.

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