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Neutrality, dependability were key selection criteria “We did a lot of planning before we selected our vendor,”

Probst says. “And we went through an extensive selection process.” True neutrality was the fi rst criteria in Intermountain’s selec-

tion hierarchy. “We were not super-keen on the idea of using a vendor linked

to proprietary imaging systems. We wanted a truly ubiquitous platform that would work well with all image types, from a vendor without any other agenda,” Probst says. “We also wanted proven technology, though in 2010, the technology was still pretty new. And we wanted a company that would stand behind their product and [would] be there over the long haul.” After a lengthy selection process, Intermountain chose a

partnership with Siemens Healthcare and Dell to implement an image-archiving solution using Dell hardware. Siemens had provided the system’s cardiology PACS, so it was a proven partner, Probst says, and the Dell technology brought the neutrality that Intermountain was looking for. “Siemens does sell imaging systems, but the fact that they were

partnered with Dell was a big factor in the decision,” Probst says. “Dell doesn’t sell medical imaging systems, so we felt confi dent that their technology would provide the neutral platform we needed.”

Careful planning, knowledge of existing system came fi rst Planning for the new system began in 2010, and continued

throughout 2011, after the Siemens/Dell team was selected. Implementation began in 2012. “You have to be realistic about the timing,” Probst says. “T e decision should be made strategically, not in a rush because your PACS system is failing. T e planning takes time. And you need patience in the implementation process. T e technology is rela- tively new, and it doesn’t always work the way you think it will. And it will take longer than you think it will. But if you work with your vendor, you will end up with a solid product.” Because Intermountain’s IT staff had developed much of the system that was currently in place, they had a thorough under- standing of the technology and its capabilities. T at, according to Probst, was the key to making the transition work smoothly. “You have to know how the existing system works to integrate it with the new archive,” says Probst. “You need to be thoroughly familiar with the technical interface – the various readers currently being used by the clinical staff , as well as the nuances of the image formats. Even though all of the systems use a DICOM format, there is still a lot of variation in the formats.” For Intermountain, with its wealth of IT expertise in house, the implementation was not a big project, Probst says. “It wasn’t a huge event. We didn’t delay or halt any other projects to get this done. It was just one of many things that were happening. We had a bridging team, four to fi ve people who worked with Dell to implement the system.”

Seamless new technology for clinicians One big advantage of the new system, according to Probst, is that clinicians won’t be required to learn a new interface. As the

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images are brought into the archive, they are standardized into a common format that allows them to be read using any reader. “T e physicians can keep using whatever reader they are

comfortable with. T is will give them some additional fl ex- ibility in bringing on new technology,” says Probst. “Because implementing a new PACS is a long process, we didn’t allow the physicians to make those changes very often. Now, if they want to bring in something new, we don’t have to make huge changes. If there is a new reader that off ers clinical advantages, we can integrate that pretty easily without adding a new layer of complexity that a full PACS implementation would require.” T e new system will also make it possible to integrate more images into the system’s electronic medical records, improving access for attending physicians as well as diagnosing physicians. And sharing images between Intermountain and other healthcare providers will be easier. “T is will allow us to share images with the University of

Utah hospitals and clinics or any other provider, and that has got to be better for patients,” Probst says.

“The decision should be made strategically, not in a rush because your PACS system is failing. The planning takes time. And you need patience in the implementation process.”

- Marc Probst, Intermountain Healthcare’s CIO and vice president of information systems

Solution works for small hospitals, too “We have a lot of in-house talent and experience, but with

the increasing hardware requirements for image storage and the need to manage that storage, working with a partner made sense,” Probst says. “T ey were able to bring in experts and manage the project with us. It’s a solution that would also work well with small hospitals or health systems. Even though Intermountain is a complex system, with complex use cases and demands, the implementation was rapid and relatively easy. A less complex system would be implemented even faster. T ey would get the same advantages, just on a diff erent scale.”

Partner, patience and planning Making the transition to a unifi ed, vendor-neutral image

archive comes down to three factors, according to Probst: partner, planning and patience. “You have to pick a good partner, you have to know your system thoroughly and plan the transition carefully, and you have to have patience,” Probst says. “Transitions are tough. But you will get a good solution if you are patient and work with and learn from your vendor partner.”

HMT

For more information about Intermountain Healthcare’s transi- tion to an enterprise-wide image archiving solution from Siemens and Dell, contact Geoff Duke at geoff .duke@imail.org.

HEALTH MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGY June 2013 17

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