Posted by: Jenny Laurello
DICOM, ECM, EHR, EHR Adoption, EMR, EMR adoption, enterprise content management, PACS, vendor neutral archive, VNA
There is a growing need to address the storage and access of medical images. From wound care photos to DICOM CT and medical records studies, medical images are prevalent and their storage requirements are intensive. To derive the most clinical value from medical images, a careful taxonomy and content management strategy should be applied.
Today, many healthcare providers are working to solve the challenge of medical image management through the deployment of a vendor neutral archive (VNA). These systems are capable of providing a single repository for medical images and they will also typically provide basic support for associated unstructured clinical content.
While medical images are often stored, viewed and managed on separate systems; these images are simply another form of clinical content which can benefit from an enterprise content management (ECM) system.
ECM systems play a key role in completing the electronic medical record (EMR) by integrating and incorporating the vast amount of health information that is not otherwise captured by the EMR. ECM provides integration of unstructured clinical content in a way that most physicians and clinicians are unaware that this important clinical information is actually being captured and displayed by an ECM solution. This can include access to content which has been converted or archived from legacy picture archiving and communication systems (PACS), EMR and practice management systems.
Making the transition to centralized medical image storage is often challenging because of the many sources of medical images and other relevant content. Not surprisingly, health providers often choose to embark on a stepwise deployment of their VNA. Some ECM solutions are serving as a bridge to enterprise VNA, by offering the ability to ingest DICOM studies, integrate to departmental VNA solutions and to display medical images along with the traditional ECM data.
ECM solutions provide a path to achieve VNA adoption while immediately improving the clinical experience for physicians and clinicians by presenting data from disparate sources together in clinical context. It provides the right information in the right place within the EMR, including access to medical images.
In addition, achieving meaningful use stage 2 attestation and HIMSS EMR adoption model stage 7 require evolved healthcare information workflows and interoperability. While EMR image enablement is currently optional within these standards, it is almost certain to become a requirement in the coming years. An ECM solution can provide immediate efficiency gains and enhanced access to clinical information.
Healthcare providers are utilizing a smaller number of enterprise-class IT systems and deploying them with creativity and consistency. They are insisting upon significantly higher returns from their IT investments than was achieved in the past. This necessitates that healthcare technology companies form strategic partnerships to meet the broadest possible range of customer needs with the lowest possible recurring cost. A world-class ECM solution provides an ideal technology platform to empower this transformation. ECM seeks to make other systems better, to replace systems and consolidate clinical content behind the scenes.
By leveraging the combined strengths of ECM and VNA, medical images become an integral part of a singularly accessible and significantly more complete medical record.