by James Markland

· New ACR Registries Are Expected to Boost Quality of Care
· Tech Zoom: Philips’ iSite PACS 3.6: Better Workflow and Collaboration
· Tech Zoom: KLAS Enterprises Ranks Focus Infomatics No. 1

New ACR Registries Are Expected to Boost Quality of Care

Recently, the American College of Radiology (ACR) announced the formation of six national data registries to build a body of evidence with which to compare the quality of care among imaging facilities nationwide. The new National Radiology Data Registry (NRDR) will include a CT colonography component, a General Radiology Improvement Database (GRID), a coronary CT angiography registry, and a National Carotid Artery Stent Registry (ACR-NCR.) The program is set to launch this summer.

Although the program is still in its early stages, we asked ACR Executive Director Harvey L. Neiman, MD, about the prospects of the new set of registries.

Harvey L. Neiman, MD
Harvey L. Neiman, MD

MI: Why is this program a significant development in providing quality health care?

Neiman: Up to now, benchmarking results have been limited and lacked in-depth analysis. The ACR registries, although voluntary, will collect and distribute much more information than was previously available. It will enable us to document the value of particular procedures and allow individual radiologists to benchmark their cumulative results with similar practices across the country.

MI: How does the program improve on what came before?

Neiman: With six different components, the information available will be much more specific. The registries will allow assessment time to be reduced to hours and minutes instead of days. Turnaround time will be much faster.

MI: What benchmarking process was available before?

Neiman: Not much was previously available outside of internal assessments. ACR offers an online benchmarking service called RadPeer, which is a simple procedure that allows peer review to be performed during the routine interpretation of current images. After submission of practice data to the ACR, the radiology chair or medical director can access the reports. The new registries will improve on this process immensely because we’ll have a much larger sample of data and many more experts to assess the results.

MI: How do you expect radiologists to respond to the new program?

Neiman: We expect a wide spectrum of reactions. Some will be more skeptical because there will be an increase in paperwork. But the information will be much more specific and valuable to the practicing radiologist.

MI: What is the reaction so far?

Neiman: We have 1,500 practices enrolled with data on more than 40,000 patients. But it will take a few more months before we have enough data to produce meaningful results.

Tech Zoom:

Philips’ iSite PACS 3.6: Better Workflow and Collaboration

At the recent Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine (SIIM) conference in Providence, RI, Philips showcased the company’s new enhancements to its iSite Picture Archiving and Communications System (PACS). Philips now offers customers communications tools from Primordial, LLC, specially designed to foster process efficiencies and increase collaboration within radiology departments using iSite PACS.

Custom-developed tools from Primordial iSite’s industry-leading, open integration Application Program Interface (API) provide added functionality designed to enhance user experience and promote improved sharing of clinical information and ideas in the radiology workspace.

This suite of tools includes RadConnect, RadReview, and RadMetrix. RadConnect is an integrated instant messaging and e-mail program that ensures radiologists are in continual contact with other care cycle providers. RadReview minimizes the time required to implement the American College of Radiology-mandated peer review process by providing the tools to implement this process within iSite. Finally, RadMetrix is an information tool that delivers a real-time, dashboard overview of the radiology department’s exam metrics, such as throughput, turnaround times, and trending.

“The Primordial tools simplify access to data that radiologists need to provide confident diagnoses and streamline collaboration among caregivers to enhance their levels of patient care,” said Matt Long, general manager, Healthcare Informatics, Philips Medical Systems.

Philips iSite PACS 3.6 takes picture archiving and communications capabilities to a new level by extending the power of radiology to all caregivers throughout the hospital. The system incorporates patented iSyntax technology to deliver advanced visualization capabilities such as integrated maximum intensity projection (MIP), multi-planar reformatting (MPR), and 3D rendering; advanced hanging protocols and mammography soft copy reading support; conference presentations; and teaching files support.

All of these applications are now available on the desktop, which eliminates the need to move back and forth between workstations. “The advanced tools introduced in iSite PACS 3.6 underscore our commitment to providing quality applications designed to improve workflow and increase efficiency,” said Long.

“Version 3.6 improves the work process for radiologists by adding productivity tools, including user-definable keyboard functionality, external keypads for easily determined distance measurements, and better health care images,” said Eric Mahler, a Philips iSite spokesperson.

“We provide 24/7 live text support,” Mahler added. “Support is essentially defined by the user. We’re also all-inclusive. We service large enterprises to small imaging centers. And we guarantee protection. We automatically back up all data for 6 months at no extra charge.”

Finally, iSite’s new features streamline complex workflow, enable clinicians to better focus on patient care, and provide seamless access to the patient’s image history from both within and outside the health care facility.

Tech Zoom:

KLAS Enterprises Ranks Focus Infomatics No. 1

In its “Top 20: 2007 Mid Year Report Card,” KLAS Enterprises, LLC, a research and consulting organization specializing in monitoring and reporting the performance of health care information technology (HIT) vendors, has recognized Focus Infomatics (a subsidiary of Burlington, Mass-based Nuance Communications Inc) as the top vendor in the Outsourced Transcription category. This is the third time Focus has been awarded the top spot.

KLAS, founded in 1996, has created a database of the opinions of health care executives, managers, and clinicians from more than 4,500 hospitals and 2,500 clinics. The information generated is current and is refreshed daily with new performance evaluations and interviews, so KLAS clients are able to see clearly how a vendor or product is truly performing.

“As more health care organizations see the value in speech solutions alongside integrated outsourced speech editing services, Nuance stands alone in what we’re bringing to the market,” said Peter Durlach, senior vice president, health care marketing and product strategy for Nuance. “KLAS’ continued recognition of our product family, including PowerScribe?, Dragon?, NaturallySpeaking?, and EnterpriseExpress?, reinforces Nuance as the clear market leader in delivering end-to-end speech recognition technology and services.”

Built by Radiologists for Radiologists

If particular interest to imaging radiologists is Nuance Dictaphone’s new version of the PowerScribe Workstation, a speech recognition system for high-efficiency radiology reporting. PowerScribe automates the clinical documentation process and reduces the long turnaround time associated with the manual transcription of radiology interpretations, part of a $10 billion transcription industry in North America. “The success and continued market momentum of PowerScribe are a result of the product’s genesis. It was built from the ground up for radiology, by radiologists and for radiologists,” said Durlach.

“Our Dictaphone on-demand solution enables all health care organizations, no matter their size or IT budget, to dramatically improve their overall transcription process, driving down costs while also enhancing quality and turnaround time,” he said.

Joe Thornton, director of imaging services, Medical West, an affiliate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Health System, agrees. “Finding a solution to improve radiologist productivity, enhance report consistency, and deliver timely results was part of the escalating transcription and reporting pressures on our radiology department,” he said. “We embraced speech recognition technology to streamline report creation and distribution workflow; and we chose PowerScribe because of the application’s seamless integration into our existing IT environment, while delivering market-leading accuracy and cost savings.”

Memorial Hermann Healthcare System, Houston, a large conglomerate with 16 inpatient and specialty outpatient facilities, now utilizes Dictaphone PowerScribe Speech Recognition services—all managed on one central system. “We needed to replace an unstable and labor-intensive, old way of doing business with a cutting-edge breakthrough technology,” said Robert Weeks, director, information technology. It soon became clear to Weeks that this “breakthrough technology” was PowerScribe, which far exceeded the competition when comprehensively examined by Weeks and his colleagues.

Radiologists at Memorial Hermann are thoroughly impressed by their newfound efficiency. “It’s night and day compared to what we had before. … Now I dictate a report, sign it off, and it’s out there—within a matter of less than a minute, an official finalized report is out there for the clinician to see,” stated radiologist Justin Tholany, MD. Tholany, along with more than 150 other radiologists, currently self-edit 77,000 reports each month, representing 98% of total radiology report volume.

Durlach sums up the reason for PowerScribe’s success. “This product stands up against the competition because we are continuously evolving its feature set with the end user in mind. Version 4.8 builds upon our commitment to provide busy, practicing radiologists with tools to automate documentation, streamline workflow, and improve patient care by ensuring critical test results are delivered quickly and accurately.”