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Survey: CIOs Prioritize Enterprise Imaging Strategies, but Interoperability Remains Core Challenge

August 24, 2016
by Rajiv Leventhal
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Although imaging has now evolved into a core responsibility for an organization’s IT staff, more than half of responding CIOs said they cannot yet move imaging data between systems and applications, according to a new survey of College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) members.

For the survey, Boston Mass.-based medical image exchange solution company lifeIMAGE polled 100 CIOs and other senior health IT members of CHIME, who represent various facilities, including hospital/acute care, medical groups and long term/extended care. The survey found that imaging, which was once under the tight control of radiology, has evolved into a core responsibility for an organization’s IT staff, with 86 percent of surveyed CIOs reporting that IT owns enterprise imaging either exclusively or as a shared initiative with radiology departments.

The survey also found that 58 percent of facilities have implemented an enterprise imaging strategy to help manage, store and exchange medical image data. And, nearly half of respondents agree that a successful enterprise image strategy is a shared responsibility. CIOs recognize that such capability is needed in many clinical disciplines, citing a variety of departments in need; chief among them: cardiology, orthopedics and radiology.

Further, more than 50 percent of respondents indicated that inefficient imaging practices could lead to delays in diagnosis and care, unnecessarily repeating studies, and patients potentially going elsewhere for care. The overall interoperability outlook, however, is bleak, per the survey’s findings: while 86 percent of CIOs note improving care coordination is a driver for interoperability, more than half of the organizations surveyed cannot yet move imaging data between systems and applications. Other drivers of interoperability include reducing redundant testing for value-based care (71 percent), improving physician satisfaction (63 percent) and reducing patient exposure to radiation (42 percent). Additionally, 46 percent said that the biggest challenge is integrating imaging technology systems with an electronic healthcare record (EHR).

What’s more, one-third of surveyed CIO respondents indicated their facility might be losing revenue because of image data interoperability challenges. Several respondents cited value-based contracts that do not reimburse for duplicate exams. Overall, the survey responses tell the story of how payers are incentivizing interoperable health data through bundled payments and other programs that reward health providers who do not re-image patients when it is clinically unnecessary.

“It was telling to learn that the majority of CIOs surveyed say meeting interoperability at their facilities remains a challenge,” Matthew Michela, CEO and president of lifeIMAGE, said in a statement. “Healthcare IT executives have an understanding of what needs to be done, because they’re seeing how unattainable image data can negatively impact patient care, but they haven’t yet solved the technical issues surrounding image interoperability.”



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