Managing the Flow in Radiology

Vendors Empower PACS with Results Notification, New Administrative Tools
Summer 2006 HIPAA Compliance Survey Results
After the Acquisition

Vendors Empower PACS with Results Notification, New Administrative Tools

Mindful of the push in medicine for quality and the impact of recent reimbursement cuts on imaging, PACS vendors exhibiting at RSNA 2006 rolled out a variety of results reporting solutions as well as new administrative tools.

With attention focused on quality in medicine, rapid and reliable communication of radiology report results has become a priority. “Two thirds of sentinel events are the result of communications failures, according to JCAHO,” notes Peter White, marketing director of Vocada Inc, Dallas. “We’ve gone from zero to 100 hospitals in 2 years.”

That number is likely to escalate as Agfa HealthCare, Greenville, SC, announced a co-marketing agreement with Vocada at the show.

NovaRad Corp, American Fork, Utah, gave the RIS portion of its RIS/PACS an overhaul, adding a number of new tools, including auto-distribution of reports with one click. The system can e-mail, page, phone, or fax results and verify receipt. “In most [other] systems, you have to buy a separate component for results distribution, and it can cost up to $40,000,” notes Paul Shumway, senior vice president at NovaRad.

AMICAS Inc, Boston, announced that it has begun selling Vision Reach, a Web-based results delivery product that integrates report results with key images and creates a multimedia report for referring physicians. The application uses common e-mail and secure messaging to automatically deliver images, reports, and other information to any e-mail–enabled device. Vision Reach was designed with a zero-install client Web-based application so that referring physicians can use the service without installing any software.

McKesson Provider Technologies, Alpharetta, Ga, has enabled the 11.0.5 release of its Horizon PACS with eJacket, an HTML-centric extension of the PACS that requires very little in the way of software and hardware, according to company representative Joe Biegel. “It works on anything that can bring up a browser,” Biegel explains. The company also is developing a powerful new PACS application that leverages Unified Communications, a standard application in the information technology world, and it enables physicians to share desktops.

In addition to enhanced visualization tools that include smoother cine, thick-slice MPR, and improved speed of viewing, Emageon, Birmingham, Ala, has added the following workflow enhancements to its solution: instant messaging, color-coding in the worklist, key image notes, patient notes, and auto-messaging of results.

Workflow-Tracking Tools

Patient View, a work-in-progress from DR Systems in San Diego, will feature a patient registration kiosk loaded with 16 registration forms, including advance beneficiary notice.

Many vendors are tightly integrating their RIS/PACS offerings, which enables powerful enhancements of administrative tools. DR Systems, San Diego, has endowed its Release 7 of Unity with new workflow management tools, including preauthorization, and the capability to track patients, film, and communications. The company also showed a work-in-progress called Patent View, a patient registration kiosk that will be used to input procedure and insurance forms, liability forms, and other health care forms to speed facilities toward a paperless environment.

“The ultimate goal is to reduce billing turnaround,” explains Douglas Dill, director of marketing at DR Systems. “It is not unusual for a bill to take 120 days for payment. When you introduce this type of automation that has the capability of reducing errors, you are taking the burden off the back office. We have loaded 16 forms into the system (ABN, breast biopsy, consent, etc) with the ability to link the forms to the type of examination. After the examination is done, we can export the form to the billing system or service, or send the forms in a PDF.”

Customers are looking for tools to help them improve business, according to Beth Frost-Johnson, director of marketing at Merge, Milwaukee. “One of the things we heard was that as soon as the radiologist gets out of the chair, you lose money,” she notes. In response, Merge took its preexisting practice-analysis tools and added real time, enabling radiologists to look at the entire spectrum of the business: the number of patients in the waiting room and the number of studies to be read, dictated, and signed.

Carestream Health Inc (formerly Eastman Kodak Co’s Health Group), Rochester, NY, has added a medical necessity tool to its current Carestream 10 RIS/PACS release. The tool is based on ICD-9 and CPT codes, and the company has given the tool regional specificity by loading the database with more than 70 Local Medical Review Policy tables. Notes Joseph Maune, business manager of RIS, “This is one of the tools that drives profitability.”

—C. Proval

Summer 2006 HIPAA Compliance Survey Results

According to the summer 2006 HIPAA Compliance Survey conducted by Phoenix Health Systems, Richardson, Tex, and the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), Chicago, about 80% of payors are in compliance with the now decade-old HIPAA security rule—while providers lag at 56% compliance.

“Most covered entities have complied to some extent with most of the regulations,” the report states, “and those who haven’t often don’t have HIPAA compliance on their top priority lists. Some noncompliant organizations remain challenged by roadblocks, such as budget constraints and the complexities of integrating HIPAA into existing systems and processes. It also is arguable that HIPAA inaction, particularly in the area of privacy, is related to the fact that more than 19,000 formal privacy-related grievances have been registered with the federal government, and none have resulted in HIPAA’s promised enforcement fines.”

Some of the report’s key findings include:

  • 39% of providers and 33% of payors reported having experienced security incidents in the 6 months prior to the survey;
  • 42% of providers and 45% of payors are conducting all HIPAA-required transactions, and “both groups cite the other’s lack of readiness as the primary reason for not conducting more standard transactions,” the report notes;
  • 22% of providers and 13% of payors remain noncompliant with privacy regulations—these results are consistent with those attained in previous surveys, “suggesting that a core group of covered entities either cannot or will not implement the Privacy standards”; and
  • about 30% of providers and payors are currently participating in health information networks, with another 20% planning to do so, and most participants agreed that HIPAA standards facilitated the implementation of such networks.

To view the survey results in full, visit

—C. Vasko

After the Acquisition

McKesson plans to integrate Per-Sé Technologies’ product line and merge strengths

By Dana Hinesly

Late last year, the McKesson Corp—a San Francisco-based health care services and information technology company—announced its acquisition of Per-Sé Technologies Inc, Alpharetta, Ga, which provides financial and administrative health care solutions for hospitals, physicians, and retail pharmacies. As part of the transaction, which was completed on January 26, McKesson will combine the connectivity assets from both companies into a new business known as RelayHealth. What this means for Per-Sé, McKesson, and the future of the products offered by both companies was the topic of discussion when Axis Imaging News spoke with Pamela Pure, president of McKesson Provider Technologies.

IE:  How will this acquisition impact McKesson’s product portfolio?

Pamela Pure

Pure: We found many complementary businesses with Per-Sé that would drive a good strategic fit. There are basically four areas of business synergy within the acquisition. The first area is in the ambulatory market. We have been working to really accelerate our leadership position in the physician office space. Per-Sé gives us a very powerful VAR [value-added resellers] network of about 100,000 physicians in very small practices and small physician offices. As we work more and more with physician offices, we have become very clear about the fact that, in addition to software, many are looking for help managing their IT needs and with running their business. This merger makes it possible for McKesson not only to provide physicians with software and medical supplies, but also to be able to provide them with revenue cycle outsourcing and business management services.

The second area is retail pharmacy. With Per-Sé, we will have a much stronger presence in retail pharmacy software, as well as connectivity. Two other areas of compatibility were with surgery and what we call “strategic synergy,” which is having a significant number of connectivity assets within both McKesson and Per-Sé. We have put these assets together into RelayHealth, a new company through which we can really focus on interactive connectivity.

IE:  Will Per-Sé’s products be marketed under the McKesson name?

Pure: Yes, products will be rolled into the McKesson and RelayHealth organizations. We don’t want any customers to wonder what happened to Per-Sé. We want to make sure there is an appropriate transitional period, but eventually, all of the targeted branding will be tied to McKesson. For each of the new products we acquire, we go through a process of building a strategic roadmap. That roadmap is a multiyear view of how to enhance the product and our market footprint. As we complete this process with each product, we will finalize our investment strategy.

IE:  What happens to Per-Sé employees?

Pure: The president of the Per-Sé businesses will be joining McKesson, and we will be maintaining the company’s operational management team. Although there might be some minor layoffs as part of the integration process, for the most part, all Per-Sé employees will become McKesson and RelayHealth employees. Also, we have no plans to change any front-line support or customer management personnel, so the people who serviced Per-Sé customers the week before the acquisition are going to be the same people who service them the week after the acquisition—and now they also will have the power of McKesson behind them. McKesson is committed to continuing to provide excellence in the medical-imaging space.

IE:  What does the future hold for McKesson?

Pure: Not only in McKesson’s Provider Technologies Business, but across the entire company, you’re going to see us coming to market much more aggressively with complete solutions for our customers, providing a differentiated product. Whether that customer is a retail pharmacy, a payor, a physician, or a hospital, we believe McKesson is the only company that can work strategically with these health care organizations to provide software, IT, revenue cycle outsourcing, robotics and automation, supplies, and—with RelayHealth—interactive connectivity.

Dana Hinesly is a contributing writer for  Axis Imaging News. For more information, contact .