Managing the Flow in Radiology

Optimal Performance: NovaRad’s Integrated Solution
Bertka Receives 2007 AMDIS Award for Applied Medical Informatics

Optimal Performance: NovaRad’s Integrated Solution

Seamless integration and low maintenance have arrived in the form of the two latest products from NovaRad Corp, of American Fork, Utah.

NovaPACS 7.0 and NovaRIS 7.0 are built on the same open-source, Web-based platform, so they integrate with each other as well as other third-party systems.

The NovaRIS 7.0 and NovaPACS 7.0 systems are built on the same open-source, Web-based platform, and as a result, they easily integrate with each other in addition to other third-party systems.

“With the release of NovaRIS 7.0 and NovaPACS 7.0, we are again raising the bar for what hospitals and imaging centers should expect from their radiology systems,” said Paul Shumway, NovaRad vice president. “NovaRIS and NovaPACS provide unmatched system performance with deep functionality and numerous features to ease imaging reading and front office administration tasks—at an affordable and approachable price,” said Shumway.

Through an improved command center called NovaCentral, NovaRad’s customer support team can remotely monitor the critical functions of the customer’s RIS or PACS, in real time. This added safeguard allows for ensured updates, bringing about optimal performance of the systems.

It also provides for fast dissemination of new product upgrade releases, which are made at no additional charge to the customer. Shumway said his company intends to release new versions of its software more frequently.

“Prior to the command center, NovaRad had tools to monitor our customers’ systems, but they were not this sophisticated,” Shumway said. “Overall, the improved command center means that our customers can feel even more secure than they already do about their PACS and RIS always being up and running smooth. We have always given a 99% uptime guarantee, and this is just part of continuing to provide that in the more complex systems of the future.”

Elements of the NovaRIS 7.0 include an increased menu customization option, which lets radiologists maintain their own customized preferences from any computer, and a “quick order” wizard with five required fields that produces fast scheduling of patients.

“Referring offices and patients only need to spend minimal time getting a patient on the schedule, thus ensuring they are more likely to call again and again in the future when they see how quick the process is,” Shumway said. “This is a competitive edge for our clients in whatever market they happen to be in.”

The NovaPACS 7.0 also incorporates components that foster an optimized workflow, according to Tyler Harris, director of training.

Multiple site codes distinguish stored images from multiple facilities, and the radiologist will have access to the patient’s whole history.

A split/merge study option, convenient for billing and reporting, separates studies that have been scanned as one study due to contrast chasing.

Spine labeling ensures the accurate labeling of vertebrae and easy dictation of findings.

A foot peddle for transcription facilitates the control of voice files and allows for integration with voice recognition systems. At no additional cost, NovaRad also throws in an inherent voice file, built into the system.

Furthermore, audio alerts tell a tech when they need to look at the screen, instead of having to watch a computer in a modality area “like a pot of water waiting to boil,” said Harris.

“Real world demands don’t allow for a tech or other user to have to continually watch for their next duty, so this feature provides a means to free them to work on other activities and then be alerted via audio alert when they need to look at the screen,” Harris said. “This allows their workflow to be more efficient.”

Customers from more than 150 sites attended the users’ group meeting this year, providing the feedback that played a role in NovaRad’s creation of the two systems, Shumway said. They requested a fully integrated RIS and PACS, features that bring about radiologists’ efficiency and scheduling and billing tools that allow imaging administrators to optimize business processes, he continued.

—Elaine Sanchez

Bertka Receives 2007 AMDIS Award for Applied Medical Informatics

The Association of Medical Directors of Information Systems (AMDIS) recently recognized Kenneth R. Bertka, MD, chief medical information officer for Mercy Health Partners, Toledo, Ohio, for outstanding achievement in applied medical informatics. At the 16th annual Physician-Computer Symposium held in Ojai, Calif, on July 25, Bertka and the five other recipients of the 2007 AMDIS Awards were honored for their efforts to integrate successful computer information systems into the practice of medicine.

Bertka received the award for the successful implementation of a computerized physician order-entry (CPOE) system, along with other physician information technology initiatives. “It’s an award with my name on it, but it really goes to speak for all the great people I work with and the things that we’ve done here,” he said.

Bertka describes his team’s threefold mission as focusing on quality improvement, moving toward evidence-based medicine and best practices, and preparing for the future practice of medicine. The CPOE was implemented as the next obvious functionality piece for the hospital’s existing electronic health record (EHR) system, which integrates a number of applications so that physicians have easy access whenever and wherever they need it.

“We’ve brought [CPOE] up now across four of our hospitals, and this past year, we’ve pretty much been working on just enhancing it, and then we’ll be rolling it out to the remainder of our hospitals over the next couple of years,” he said.

Physicians and staff have warmly received previous functionality pieces of the EHR thanks to the time savings at every step. However, CPOE adoption stirred a little more reluctance at first. “When you get to order entry, that’s a little more difficult, because it begins to impact on a physician’s time,” Bertka said. “There’s no question that with order entry, to put in a single, one-time medication order, it’s going to take longer in an electronic system by the time you sign on, pull up the patient, place the order, and log out. There’s no way that’s going to take less time than jotting down an order on a piece of paper.”

To bring everyone on board, Bertka emphasized how the CPOE contributed to the overall improvement of the system by providing better legibility and immediate action, which means fewer calls for clarification and improved accuracy. Almost immediately, the hospital system began to see results, including reducing the time between order placement and delivery in half in some cases. The allergy alert mechanism has also saved countless hours and become a valuable quality control measure.

“About 180 times a month, a physician will put in an order, get an allergy alert, and either abort the order or change it before signing it,” Bertka said. “That’s the most important thing, because there you’re potentially preventing some sort of serious reaction from taking place.”

Next on the team’s agenda is to incorporate nursing documentation, progress notes, and other items into the EHR system. The team will also image the entire medical record so that physicians and staff will have access to every form or other piece of paper generated for a particular patient.

For Bertka, these steps are only the beginning. “It’s a never-ending journey,” he said. “It’s not like one day you wake up and say, we’re done, because once you’re into the order entry world, things are constantly changing. Treatments and medicine change, and what is best practice today is not necessarily best practice tomorrow.”

—Ann H. Carlson