While only a fool would claim that he could say with absolute certainty what the future holds, it doesn’t take fortune teller to see that success in the healthcare industry will increasingly favor the “connected” over the “disconnected.” In fact, a recent survey
found that 85% of industry stakeholders expect mergers and acquisition activity to increase in 2015 – meaning the newly created entities need to communicate and share data, including imaging information, efficiently and appropriately to ensure financial and clinical success.
In addition to hospital consolidation, accelerated implementation timelines for value-based reimbursement models have elevated the significance of technological innovation to enable patients to receive faster, more efficient, and higher-quality care. Those healthcare organizations that play well with others, embracing the spirit of collaboration and interoperability strategies will likely find themselves best positioned to profit in the coming new age of healthcare.
Here are three strategies that healthcare organizations should consider leveraging today to prepare for an increasingly connected healthcare environment:
Reimagine interoperability. An estimated $12 billion is wasted each year on unnecessary imaging. More and better collaboration is needed not just to deliver better care, but also to meet patient needs for access to images and provider needs for better exchange of images. Moving forward, healthcare organizations need to rethink outdated CD- and film-based approaches to image sharing in favor of cloud-based approaches that smoothly enable safe, secure access, management and sharing of data anytime, anywhere.
Redefine referral management. Lost patient referrals—particularly in the context of today’s narrow networks—are a real and grave financial concern for healthcare provider organizations. As consolidation continues to change the way health systems, hospitals, individual imaging centers, and specialist physicians interact, and as fee for value reimbursement takes hold, providers will need to find effective ways to mitigate referral loss. By leveraging operational and workflow efficiencies – such as easier electronic image ordering and sending results directly into a provider/patient’s EHR – healthcare organizations can nurture and expand their referral networks, ultimately resulting in better, more complete access to imaging for improved patient care and sustainable revenue.
Refresh enterprise-wide imaging. Traditional imaging is being forced to change. The days of an organization’s individual departments storing and managing its own images are disappearing—giving way to more centralized data sharing to enable greater interoperability and more secure disaster recovery capabilities. This trend requires greater collaboration between and among entities both within and outside an organization’s four walls—a level of interoperability that can best be achieved with the help of tools such as zero-footprint viewers and vendor neutral archives (VNAs). The use of a VNA, for example, enables providers immediately and cost-effectively to access archived DICOM and non-DICOM data for a full view of patient data exactly when a specialist needs it, ultimately resulting in improved patient outcomes and greater physician loyalty.
Collaboration is the future of healthcare, and the future has already arrived. The ability to connect healthcare software, systems, and networks will quickly determine which provider organizations succeed and thrive.
Michael Klozotsky is Vice President of Corporate Marketing at Merge Healthcare.