Taming the Wild, Wild West: Point of Care image capture in its natural habitat

Young female medical assistant looking at x-ray scans

When we think of medical imaging solutions, most often, our minds go to the safe lands of the Radiology Department. Personnel order studies, schedule procedures, move patients to the appropriate modality or vice versa. Images are captured, read, archived neatly and safely and opinions are rendered.

It’s all so civilized and orderly. Soothing just thinking about it, isn’t it?

But just outside the relative calm of the CT scanner, there is a vast space where image capture workflow is a little dicier and a lot less consistent. That space is commonly known as “the rest of the enterprise.” Sometimes, it can feel a little like the Wild, Wild West out there, where people don’t really care about any rules. They need to get a clear picture of patients as fast as they can, so they can help them.

Clinicians capture point of care images in the ED, frequently as FAST scans. In Labor and Delivery, decisions made in seconds with bedside ultrasound can be the difference between life and death for our smallest and most fragile patients. Meanwhile, ultrasound-guided line or nerve block placements are becoming more and more prevalent.

A common truth – clinical judgements made swiftly at the bedside can ultimately move patients along in their care more quickly, minimizing risk and maximizing outcome. But when both time and patients are critical, consideration for schedules, orders and accession numbers fall pretty low on the totem pole.

Are you gambling with your images?

So what happens downstream? Hopefully, patients have successful outcomes and their caregivers move on, continuing their quests to provide care as efficiently and safely as possible. Referencing images used to support immediate clinical judgement can be helpful in the ongoing care of patients and those images may be required to support billing for procedures. But, if caregivers are acquiring those images outside the typical radiology workflow process, maintaining their quality, knowing where they live and how they are associated to each patient can be a gamble at best.

I know it was a main form of recreation back in the 19th Century American frontier, but gambling and healthcare do not go together.

Manhandling point of care procedures and trying to tame them into conventional workflows doesn’t always meet the immediate needs in many clinical scenarios. It is important to note, however, that as patients, documentation and financial requirements all become more complex; we must acknowledge the growing volume of these images and the need for their consistent capture, archive and access.

We don’t need to resolve this latest standoff between clinical need and perceived technological limitation like we’re at the O.K. Corral. We can absolutely solve the issues peacefully through enterprise planning and the implementation of technology that streamlines front-end capture processes and puts information in the hands of healthcare providers when and where they need it.

If you’re looking for a way to save images directly into patient records, come see me in booth 1379 at #HIMSS17. I look forward to talking to you!

Julie McDonald

Julie McDonald

Julie McDonald, RN, is a focused healthcare professional with a strong clinical, administrative and leadership background. Julie is passionate about utilizing her 25 years of industry knowledge to assist in creating and leveraging technology solutions that will improve the experience of clinicians and their patients as Hyland’s Healthcare Business Consultant. Her past nursing experience has been in both a large, urban university-based medical center as well as a moderate sized community hospital, with a focus on clinical excellence, mentorship, and education of both patients and colleagues. This has provided her with a broad perspective of healthcare organizations and the unique and not so unique challenges they experience. Julie’s experience in facilitating collaboration among professionals and leading a team collective for a superior quality-of-care experience in a stressful, emotion-driven environment has been invaluable to her role at Hyland. It has helped her to provide a more meaningful discussion about how clinical needs and technical capabilities can be synchronized to provide a superior clinician and patient experience in an environment that is rapidly changing and challenging both clinically and technically.

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