AT&T ForHealth recently hosted an mHIMSS webinar exploring trends in healthcare mobility. The presentation particularly focused on how mobile medical image viewers are helping to change the way medicine is practiced – for the better.

I think it’s important to remember what the process of practicing medicine used to look like 20 years ago, before mobile and cloud technologies were so commonly available. Manually managing workflow with phone calls, paper trails, and snail mail versus using technology to automate processes limited – and still does limit – physician bandwidth to serve patients. I look at healthcare today and it’s amazing to see how rapidly 21st century technology is opening up almost limitless possibilities for improving patient care.

Today’s trends show a rapid movement toward greater mobility – by the population overall, but particularly by physicians and other health professionals. According to various surveys, physicians now are 250 percent more likely to own a tablet than other consumers; half of clinicians routinely use a combination of smartphone, tablet, and computer; and smartphone usage accounts for more than 40 percent of clinician’s at-work digital time. Combine mobile with new medical image viewing technologies, and physicians are empowered to deliver better care right where they are, any time of the day or night. Not only does this offer much higher levels of flexibility, but also the benefit of efficiency helps speed delivery of care.

Why mobile is a game-changer for medical imaging

A common issue two decades ago, and unfortunately still the case for many patients today, is that medical images are not easily transferred from organization to organization. Here’s a typical scenario: A referring clinician orders an MRI cardiac study. The images and interpretation results are available in the radiology Picture Archiving Communication System (PACS) provided by Vendor A. Subsequently, the referring clinician refers the patient to a cardiologist. The cardiologist orders the imaging procedures that are available in the cardiology PACS provided by Vendor B. The referring physician and the cardiologist must now log in to two separate PACS to view images using separate viewers, even though both interpretation reports may be in the EHR or hospital information system.

In this scenario, remote access is dependent upon each PACS vendor’s image viewer and site security requirements. Additionally, images may be downloaded onto an outside user device. Not only is this time-consuming, tedious work, but it’s also time that each physician could be focused on clinical activities.

On the flip side, manual processes like these show there is enormous possibility to remove much of this wasted time from this process. One feasible, cost-effective solution to bring the ability to view medical images in near real-time – no matter where they are stored – is the implementation of a single, enterprise-wide user interface that makes images accessible in a highly secure manner to as many users as necessary. Workflow is vastly improved and physicians are able to integrate into virtually any system, including EHR, VNA and PACS, thus centralizing access. Additionally, a single, mobile viewer can retrieve these images from multiple systems, and allow real-time collaboration, enterprise-wide.

If you would like to learn more about leveraging an enterprise-wide user interface to liberate medical images from PACS silos, listen to the archived mHIMSS webinar. The webinar covers a number of topics, including:

  • Trends in healthcare mobility
  • The importance of using an image viewer with the proper diagnostic accreditation
  • The benefits of implementing a single, enterprisewide image viewing solution for all Web and mobile devices
  • How to better support image access
  • How to quickly integrate with existing EHR or other IT systems
Does your healthcare institution have a strategy for liberating medical images from PACS silos? Are you embracing the opportunity afforded through the use of mobile image viewing? Share your experiences in comments.