The temporary ban on face-to-face contact during the pandemic has forced the entire healthcare industry to reconsider how services are provided. While the methods used to capture patient images have not changed, changes to reimbursement guidelines due to COVID-19 now allow imaging groups to use ubiquitous consumer technologies in innovative ways.
It is often said that necessity is the mother of invention. So even as the pandemic wreaks havoc on health system budgets and forces department leaders to do more with less, it is also opening up new avenues. Ironically, perhaps, COVID-19 may have prompted the industry to better take advantage of existing technologies that promise cost savings and workflow efficiency, as well as a better supplier and patient experience. .
New uses for familiar technology
Consumer technology is constantly advancing, continually opening doors we don’t even know exist. When the smartphone was first invented, for example, how could we have predicted the advent of 5G? Yet healthcare leaders can already take advantage of consumer technologies to achieve greater efficiency, reduce costs, and increase provider and patient satisfaction. Here’s a look at how four of these technologies (mobile phones / tablets, QR codes, web viewers, and video game cards) can benefit imaging services:
Mobile phones / tablets
The ability for providers to access images and reports outside the confines of a hospital or healthcare system was once considered a ‘good to have’. No more. Suppliers who have had to quarantine due to exposure to COVID-19 have revealed how crucial it is to allow access to images from anywhere.
Mobile phones are about as ubiquitous as they are in consumer technology, of course. Secure apps can turn personal phones into a viable way to efficiently access reports and images from anywhere without the risk of a data breach because no information is ever stored on the phones.
Older technologies require referring physicians to log in whenever they want to check if an imaging report is ready. On the other hand, new technologies can recognize the mobile devices of the referring providers after the initial connection. This means they don’t have to reconnect and can receive text messages alerting them when routine or STAT reports are ready. Immediate notification allows them to access real-time information at their convenience.
Secure mobile technology also prevents radiologists from interrupting reading of “phone beacons” to tell referral providers that reports or images are ready. He “knows” which treating physicians should receive which alerts and delivers them with minimal effort.
QR codes were first developed in 1994 for use in the Japanese automotive industry. During the pandemic, they were widely used by consumers for contactless payments and information sharing. In imaging departments, QR codes allow images and reports from any DICOM source or visible light image to be securely shared directly with patients and providers.
Unlike burning images to a compact disc (CD), QR codes give patients and physicians easier and more immediate access to images. Staff simply print the QR code on a sheet of plain paper, resulting in a more cost-effective and efficient workflow.
QR codes allow secure cloud storage and access to images. They improve care coordination and the patient experience, as individuals get images faster, as needed, on the device of their choice, without the frustration of having to log in or remember names. user and passwords.
Although few patients have more CD players, it is easy for them to download a QR code reader to their cell phone. Thus, they may be more likely to drive referrals to radiologists who use QR codes rather than to those who always rely on CDs.
Universal web-based viewer
Most image viewers are segmented by clinical department. While useful from a specialty perspective, this siled approach may inhibit communication between interdisciplinary physicians. By leveraging cloud technology, web-based universal viewers take a more patient-centric approach, one that brings together images of a patient from all departments.
In addition to making the electronic health record (EHR) more efficient, the ability to consolidate information from different parts of the EHR gives providers a more holistic view of the patient record. Patients can also benefit when providers use a web-based universal viewer to show them their entire health history on a mobile device in an exam room.
For radiologists, an image viewer that provides more information can lead to more efficient workflows, such as reducing tumor plaque preparation time by 25-30%, for example. Accelerating patient throughput while preserving informative and personalized care can also create more satisfying patient experiences. and increase reimbursement.
Game industry video cards
Advanced imaging features, such as 3D, run slowly when rendering on a server. Running a workstation’s video card instead can speed up access. So why not “borrow” the technology from a mainstream sector known for its innovation in imaging: gaming. By taking advantage of technology that takes advantage of video cards used in the gaming industry, Radiology teams can ensure that sharp, advanced images are rendered quickly at workstations.
Improved experiences, greater efficiency
Temporary bans on face-to-face contact during the pandemic forced us to collectively question our thinking about health services. What services are essential and exactly How? ‘Or’ What essential? What procedures can be performed remotely or without contact? Which ones require in-person service?
Imaging procedures may still require in-person service. Even with the evolution of telehealth, patients must be physically present to be scanned by an MRI, CT, X-ray or some other modality – at least, for now. What has changed is the desire to pursue different tactics to convey these images to healthcare providers, patients and other clinicians.
Technology doesn’t have to be brand new to have new impacts. Today, imaging groups are using consumer technologies to “do more with less” to improve the experience for physicians and patients. COVID-19 has just accelerated the adoption of these technologies; one can only imagine the innovations to come.