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Is The World Ready for Enterprise Image Management and Distribution?

June 23, 2008
by Joe Marion
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Greetings from the Midwest wetlands! I haven’t been able to contribute to my blog lately as I have been preoccupied the past two weeks with water … more water than I care to see again for a while! Although this is the second time in as many years that I have ripped out basement carpeting, I consider myself lucky, and my heart goes out to all those in Iowa and other areas affected much more severely than the Waukesha, WI area! In the thirty-two years I have lived in the area, I have never seen it as bad. I have also learned a lesson – no more basement carpeting!

I appreciate the responses to my last posting on whether achieving Enterprise Image Management and Distribution is a Mount Everest. In terms of response, and recent client interactions, I am now coming to the conclusion – is the world ready for it? My conclusion? The need is there, the technology is capable, but the will, urgency, resources, or competitive spirit of cooperation to do it, that’s another matter. Allow me to share a couple recent experiences.

One of the facilities I am working with is an all-Siemens IT environment – aggressively implementing Soarian. We recently had a presentation from a vendor on the merits of an enterprise image management and distribution solution, in which in addition to other benefits, the ability to easily migrate to another vendor was raised. To that, the CIO replied, “Why do I need that? All my applications are Siemens and I don’t intend to change. If Siemens were to present it and maintain it, that’s a different story.”

At another client contemplating an enterprise solution, various vendors have raised concerns with interfacing a 3rd party solution – even going so far as to raise FDA concerns with whether such a configuration would be “FDA approved.” Or, there are certain DICOM fields that may not be supported that guarantee that the data sent back from the archive is what was sent to it that may impact the accuracy of using a third-party device.

From these experiences, one could certainly come away with a couple impressions. First, a one-vendor solution is preferable. And secondly, unless a facility is multi-vendor, why do I need it? I’d like to make a few points to share my perspective on this, and as before, encourage others to weigh in.

Start with a clear objective: It may sound cliché to think that one could contemplate an enterprise solution without a clear objective. However, my experience suggests that there are usually multiple stakeholders with differing opinions as to what is needed. Therefore, it is essential that IT have a clear idea of what the problem is that is to be solved. Is it economies of scale and simplification of the number of archive applications supported? Or, is there a need across the enterprise to improve results accessibility? Which clinical areas need to be addressed – current and future? Are multiple vendors involved or are all areas represented by a single vendor?

Look beyond the current need: Radiology and/or cardiology may be the driving force behind a current action, but a true enterprise solution should be one that takes all imaging needs into consideration. Many facilities may already be implementing a document imaging application. Is the need such that document imaging and diagnostic imaging can live separately? Or, should the solution be all-encompassing? Will other areas such as Pathology or Ophthalmology require the need to consider other vendors from radiology and cardiology? What may appear to be a straight forward solution today may be complicated by future requirements. If the likelihood is that vendor changes may occur in any of those areas, then a vendor-neutral solution may offer advantages.

Is data migration an important factor? In a multi-vendor, “best of breed” setting, data migration may be a crucial factor. However, if one vendor is strategic, it may be better to plan around that vendor’s strategy as a first step. It may even be to one’s advantage to get a solution supported by that vendor, as it keeps the number of vendor interactions to a minimum, and defines a clean line of responsibility.

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Joe Marion

Founder and Principal, Healthcare Integration Strategies

Joe Marion

www.hisconsultant.com

Joe Marion is founder and Principal of Healthcare Integration Strategies, specializing in the...