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Automation will be a critical element to enable tactical and strategic initiatives

By Sara McNeil, president, Boston Software

Cost control and revenue cycle management. CPOE (computerized physician order entry). ICD- 10 compliance. EMR integration. Meaningful- use standards. RAC audits. More than ever, healthcare organizations are under pressure to implement specifi c business and clinical initiatives. The carrot the government is dangling in front of hospitals to meet these specifi c requirements has become a priority for all hospital executives. Critical to these strategic initiatives is to automate the manual tasks and workfl ows involved and keep major strategies on target. At a recent conference, I heard one CIO make an

interesting statement as he described his hospital’s journey toward CPOE. He remarked that the transition team was surprised by how many different ways staff accomplished the same task. They found that each staff group had a slightly

different process for completing and submitting reports. The move to CPOE meant finding a common workfl ow for everyone to use. This shines a light on how much disparity exists in other areas of the hospital. Different registration personnel, for instance, may regularly ignore particular questions, or each completes the forms in a slightly different way. Just as CPOE can standardize the way clinical personnel handle workfl ow, automation can help staff throughout

the hospital standardize a process.

While most automation tools can help with manual data entry, sophisticated automation technology does that and much more. Hospitals can use automation to manage how the staff interacts with a registration screen, notify stakeholders of critical activities and fi ll in the gaps between systems and applications that might slow down the revenue cycle.

Automation offers signifi cant advantages to hospital staff,

providers and, ultimately, to patients. Hospitals can see greater effi ciency throughout the organization to address not only technological and tactical needs, but also strategic business requirements.

Cloudy days ahead: A sunny forecast for digital imaging management

By Mike Wall, CEO, DICOM Grid As we enter the second decade of the 21st

century, we take for granted our ability to tweet, text, share photos, e-mail, blog, post and download. We become annoyed if we experience even a brief delay. It’s ironic that we have set the bar so high for non-urgent communications, but we haven’t demanded the same degree of convenience and speed to access, annotate and share the medical imaging studies that play such a vital role in diagnosing and treating diseases and medical conditions. Currently, most imaging data is stored in proprietary data silos, which at best can be accessed by physicians at the facility where the imaging occurred. However, referring physicians or specialists at different organizations are usually out of luck.

This inability to easily search, share and view images and associated data can delay life-saving treatment. Even in less serious situations, patients may be subjected to costly duplicate tests that may be uncomfortable or embarrassing and expose them to radiation.

Fortunately, 2011 will mark the start of a new era in medical image management by leveraging the availability of secure, cloud-based technology that’s as easy to use as iTunes, Google or Facebook. Regardless of where and when procedures are performed, the HIPAA-compliant imaging technology will provide instant anywhere/ anytime access to all of a patient’s pertinent imaging activity on any device equipped with an Internet browser. Physicians will also be able to

take advantage of real-time clinical collaboration across all care settings. This will replace today’s antiquated, highly ineffi cient methods of data access and transport. No longer will imaging studies need to be downloaded onto frequently unreadable CDs that must be hand-delivered by patients or snail-mailed to referring and consulting physicians. Hospitals and imaging centers will facilitate the transition to seamless image searching, sharing and browsing as well as collaboration within and across organizations as a strategy to retain and increase their physician referral base. They also recognize that in addition to fostering physician loyalty, this technology can provide cost-effective business continuity; disaster recovery; elimination of expensive offsite storage; and compliance with federal and state privacy, data security and retention requirements.

10 January 2011


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