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Does Your Organization Have An Imaging Strategy?

By Jef Williams

There continues to be great interest in enterprise imaging (EI). We saw an emphasis related to sessions, roundtables, vendor narratives and provider interest at Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine (SIIM) just a few months back. We are clearly in a phase of growing momentum in achieving better outcomes, cheaper, more efficiently, more carefully and with a long view toward future success.

Including imaging as part of the patient jacket has always been top of mind with those of us who engage primarily with imaging service lines, but it is now becoming important to those in leadership for several reasons. First, it is the completion of the work with adopting EMR – adding all patient information to the patient jacket in a single platform or portal. Second, the sheer cost and complexity of imaging requires adopting newer technologies and innovations to achieve better business models. Third, policy is driving change in how we are, and will be, reimbursed; sharpening our data management models within imaging require better solutions. And finally, patient-driven care is rapidly approaching the point where it will bend the curve on business strategy and volumes.

The success of this initiative will rest largely on the comprehensiveness of the organization’s self-awareness, the empowerment of a healthy governance structure, and the willingness to learn and adapt interactively throughout the project life cycle. Success is no longer built on the technology platform or vendor of choice, albeit this is certainly a factor. Consider that few, if any, organizations are still following their original imaging road maps. This is due to many different forces including mergers, acquisitions, vendor changes, policy modifications, market changes and technology innovation. Carefully adapting to these shifts in an unstable environment means spending enough time on strategy, goals, outcomes and philosophy. These foundations serve as guiding principles and indicators of the ongoing success of an enterprise imaging initiative.

Finally, it is often said that everyone is approaching EI differently. Yes, this is true. But there are many things systems are doing similarly. We have standards, and we all deal with the challenges associated with proprietary formats, proprietary tags, immature IHE profiles, integration workarounds and supplementing solutions with peripheral technologies and workflow. There is much we can learn from each other’s experiences. We do well to avoid common mistakes. While we cannot “copy and paste” someone else’s specific strategy or road map to our own ecosystem, there are many lessons we can learn from each other. Moving our industry away from an “us versus them” mentality to a collaborative system of shared experiences will not only assist with greater local success, but ultimately reduce costs and risks associated with remediation of bad implementations.

Jef Williams, MBA, PMP, CIIP, is a managing partner at Paragon Consulting Partners.

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