Ultrasound is the fastest growing imaging modality in U.S health care, driving sufficient ubiquity in point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) that major medical societies are formally examining the implications of its rapid increase. Handhelds, portables, color doppler and other high-tech features are enabling ultrasound use to manage conditions not considered before.
In a peer-reviewed paper published early this year in JACR, the group proposes defining POCUS simply: “The sonographic evaluation of a patient performed and reported in a patient evaluation and management encounter.” In other words, POCUS means faster care since evaluation is typically done by a non-radiologist. A patient may be interpreted by an ER doctor or nurse and sent to treatment without further delay which may result in better outcomes and reduced risks.
As POCUS grows, one of the primary concerns across health care sites – from enterprise hospital imaging systems to small outreach clinics and independent practitioners – is proper storage of these images and reports along with the ability to share them with specialists, other professionals and the patient. Typically, when the scanners hard drive fills up, it defaults to first-in-first-out (FIFO) protocol and begins automatically deleting studies. Aside from the obvious record retention implications, this would go hand in hand with a failure to bill for these scans.
TeleRay CEO Tim Kelley said, “We have witnessed sites that store additional images on a portable hard drive that goes in the doctor’s car every night – this is a risky and non-compliant choice that doesn’t have to be made.” He further expounded upon the fines that have been levied on physicians due to poor image stewardship practices.
Compliance should be the first step in evaluating any POCUS plan, the second being the ability to maintain or optimize clinical workflows. This means implementing a platform that manages and automatically stores images and reports, has the ability to share and send to PACS, along with telehealth communication to bring in a specialist, qualified physician or family member in real time. TeleRay is a simple, easy to use platform that offers these crucial elements.
Cody Neville, TeleRay’s CTO, said, “We have worked hard with clinical partners to produce a platform that solves common issues from a single point of contact with the tools that serve any size site at a low cost.”
Dr. Scalia one of TeleRay’s users, said, “Being compliant and having an easy-to-use product is what keeps us comfortable in our POCUS program.” He explained, “These types of platforms are critical in establishing the continuum of care along with the ability to draw from the entire patient history to make the best clinical decisions going forward.”
The financial benefits to complete imaging and telehealth platforms are immense. Beyond the clinical and triage benefits, implementing a virtual care option which optimizes CTP coding and increases patient throughput can more than offset the revenue decline due to reduced in-person visits. Many professionals will be looking for technology to solve growing problems with access and care in 2021, and now there are solutions to manage the situation. Ensuring reliable, high-quality connection and fast access to additional data and images are key, which TeleRay resolves through cellular back-up where required. High quality tools help deliver a better patient outcome, which is the goal of any health care interaction.