Enterprise Imaging Strategies and Challenges for Digital Transformation

Recently, Gartner released a report on imaging content management in healthcare. In the comprehensive guide, Gartner outlines several challenges facing healthcare enterprises today, while also defining several actionable steps organizations can take to fill the existing enterprise imaging gap.

In our article, we summarize some of the most impactful themes from the report. Our goal is to help healthcare organizations understand more about enterprise imaging and how to take realistic steps forward to implement an enterprise imaging strategy that elevates patient care and interoperability.

Key Takeaway: Healthcare Fragmentation and Silos Hinder Patient Care

  • Enterprise imaging (EI) is often complex and fragmented throughout organizations. Silos and disparate sources of information actually hinder patient care. For that reason, a focus on EI is essential.
  • Historically healthcare delivery organizations (HDOs) have operated very independently. However, in the current healthcare environment, a full-view of the patient is necessary. This means HDOs must forge a new enterprise-wide approach to patient records and especially health imaging content management.
  • Medical imaging data is an untapped resource. While it’s now possible to continually acquire and analyze medical imaging, enterprises still fail to fully utilize the insights available through medical imaging. There is a major opportunity lost when medical imaging is used as mere data and not as action-focused insights.

From EI Challenges to EI Strategy: Focus Areas

Before diving into some of the recommendations offered by Gartner, it’s important to define what is meant by enterprise imaging strategy.

An enterprise imaging strategy is a plan for how an organization manages all medical imaging content. This includes how enterprises save, store, view, and securely manage medical multimedia across departments and stakeholders.

As digital care delivery advances rapidly, so do the types of medical images, documents, and unstructured data. This means enterprises must quickly develop a plan of action for dealing with all of this multimedia to maximize patient care. If they do not, all of the valuable patient data being collected is essentially useless. Gartner goes on to state its prediction that the best long-term solution will include vendor-neutral storage and functionality that can manage unstructured healthcare data. This platform should be separate from the current EHR.

The report not only defines the challenges facing healthcare organizations today but provides several specific areas where HDOs can focus time and effort in order to establish a proactive EI strategy. Here is a summary of the recommendations for healthcare CIOs.

Enterprise Imaging Strategy: Recommendations for CIOs

Develop Shared Policy Positions

According to Gartner, HDOs should implement enterprise imaging policy positions as soon as possible. A multidisciplinary committee is recommended to develop the EI policy document so that the policies are developed through the lens of multiple stakeholders and healthcare professionals. The report emphasizes several areas that should be covered in the policy. Governance, storage, viewing, analytics, and artificial intelligence should all be part of the EI policy document.

Create Urgency With an EI Taskforce

The key to an EI strategy that truly thrives is buy-in among key stakeholders. Gartner recommends that a proposed EI strategy must be vetted across the HDO, and specifically put in front of the most affected parties. Furthermore, the report identifies that the best way to create urgency and impact for an EI strategy is through the development of advocates. Identify stakeholders that have a level of passion and ability in the area of EI.

Conduct a Medical Imaging Services Audit

In order to make an impact, any EI initiative must start with an audit. Gartner’s report recommends that CIOs spearhead a medical imaging services audit. This means defining and reviewing which systems and personnel will be involved. A medical imaging audit should focus on establishing benchmarks of the HDOs current state of EI through inventorying the following – PACS, diagnostic workstations, ECM strategies, imaging systems and modalities, and more. The point is to have a clear, documented analysis of the enterprises imaging so that the strategy efforts can be measured for progress.

CIOs with EI Strategy Will Champion Digital Transformation

This article is a summary of a much larger Gartner report. We recommend accessing the full version for an even more comprehensive view of how healthcare enterprises can take strategic steps forward in the area of enterprise imaging. The overall theme of the report is that an EI strategy is an indispensable piece of the modern health enterprise. As healthcare continues to evolve, CIOs that champion enterprise imaging will be at the forefront of change, and ultimately deliver the best possible patient care.
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