It is Time for EHR Vendors to Look at Enterprise Imaging - Cover

It is Time for EHR Vendors to Look at Enterprise Imaging

I really enjoy watching a group of imaging leaders get into the same room. This is at least in part because of their excitement to move imaging forward. More than any other segment we work with, I feel like imaging has felt neglected by the hype that surrounds different health IT markets. This group agrees that the next step for imaging – one deserving of hype – is enterprise imaging (EI).

During the 2017 Enterprise Imaging summit at KLAS, many providers and vendors talked about how important it is to bring EHR vendors into the discussion and engage them in EI work. But the how isn’t quite clear.

Part of the difficulty of engaging EHR vendors in EI is that it isn’t exactly front and center for them. For many years, EHR vendors have focused on the issue of interoperability, and rightly so. With such a looming subject, convincing EHR vendors that EI should be a priority for them can prove fairly difficult.

Often EHR vendors view EI as a small, localized problem and something for the imaging-centric departments (and vendors) to sort out. In reality, EI will quickly become a cornerstone for the future of enterprise-wide, cross-department interoperability.

As we seek to create a seamless experience for the flow of patient data across the continuum of care – provider organizations will quickly see the need for a strong EI strategy. For those already deep in imaging – this is not news. Many vendors in the imaging space are working on what the vision and strategy behind EI should look like.

EHR vendors might be surprised if they knew how much time their customers dedicate to EI and building out for themselves the capabilities that EHR vendors could potentially offer.

This begs the question, “Why?” “Why should EHR vendors care, and why now?”

Perhaps the biggest potential pitfall of EHR vendors being left out of current EI discussions is the future struggle of integration. If everyone continues building their own solutions, a lot of time and effort will be required down the road to integrate with each of these ad-hoc solutions. Time and money wasted on reinventing the wheel, if you will. However, if EHR vendors get involved early, they can help drive the market in a unified, standardized direction.

We have to include the EHR vendors in the EI discussion because they ultimately must deliver the EI content to the end users; nurses, doctors and specialists. Encounter-based imaging, or the idea that imaging will be integrated into the physicians’ workflow instead of living in its current silo, fits right in the wheelhouse of EHR vendors. Especially when you realize that “physician workflow” has increasingly become shorthand for “physicians wrestling with their EHR.”

Ultimately, encounter-based imaging, which is the end goal of enterprise imaging strategy, drives right to the heart of EHR workflows. Sooner or later, the EHR vendors will have to own the delivery of images into patient/clinician workflows. Whenever we’ve brought together leaders from the imaging world, this seems to be the common sentiment.

When it comes to tools, the imaging market doesn’t necessarily need EHR vendors to get involved as much in radiology or cardiology, but they do need the expertise of EHR vendors for encounter-based imaging, which reaches beyond radiology and cardiology.

The EHR also has the potential to drive a lot of the EI workflow. Today that workflow isn’t typically built into an EHR. EHR vendors have the chance to enable imaging workflows in their systems. They can also help with the workflow around image acquisition and tying images to orders and reports. Imagine the seamless functionality that these non-imaging vendors could drive around

When EHR vendors do finally join the EI conversation, they can both offer their perspective and learn from the EI experts what the end users really need, benefitting the whole healthcare imaging market.