GE?s Centricity Radiology Mobile Access is an application that gives physicians mobile access to PACS images and reports for diagnostic use.

In recent years, there has been a noticeable shift in the delivery of care within hospitals and other health care facilities. Design elements like decentralized nursing stations allowed hospital staff to more freely and conveniently interact with patients, while mobile ultrasound and point-of-care devices were being developed to enable immediate care to patients without the need for transport. The viewing of diagnostic imaging was due for such a schematic upgrade, and with the introduction of personal tablets—like the iPad and other devices—GE Healthcare identified a portal through which this transformation could occur. Enter Centricity Radiology Mobile Access, an application that gives physicians mobile access to PACS images and reports for diagnostic use.

The Android- and iOS-enabled app was designed to give both on-call doctors and in-house physicians real-time access to images stored on the hospital’s PACS system. Users can find images by searching a patient’s name, patient ID, accession number, modality, or date range.

“We started using it initially as a telemedicine emergent and urgent mobile device for doctors who were on call,” said Peter Ghavami, director of informatics at Harborview Medical Center, Seattle. “Later on, when we did the pilot with GE, we found that there are a number of other useful applications for it. For example, we found that doctors are able to use it in outpatient settings where, in the past, doctors had to go into the room, log in, bring up the patient image, and then log out. Now, they can bring these patient images on the iPad, go to the exam room, show them to the patient, and discuss what they have found and what they’re doing. It has facilitated doctor-patient communication.”

The HIPAA-compliant application is able to quickly render diagnostic CT and MR images, allowing doctors to make real-time decisions, as well as streamline the caregiving process, which may be one of the application’s key attributes. Ghavami mentions several different settings in which it has increased efficiency, including the aforementioned outpatient setting, during inpatient rounds, and even in the emergency department.

ED physicians can bring an image up on an iPad and discuss it with a radiologist.

“We also have found a lot of use between the ED doctors and radiologists,” said Ghavami. “In the past, the ED doctor might have walked over to a radiologist and asked him to bring up a particular patient’s images to talk about some sort of protocol or treatment plan. Now, the ED doctor brings the image up on an iPad and shows it to the radiologist right there. It’s a lot faster and they can work on it together.”

Another benefit of that application that Ghavami notes is simpler integration of IT systems. Previously, the facility had to integrate a number of tools to offer the same capability. Unfortunately, those systems were not intended for the functionality that the facility was using them for, causing concerns over stability and security. The Centricity Radiology Mobile Access, however, is a single, secure device that gives the hospital the functionality the physicians desired.

But the key attribute that this app brings to the table is ease of use. Because of the user-friendly iPad interface, doctors are able to more quickly acquire the images and information needed to diagnose a patient and expedite their stay in the facility. Just as importantly, the app also gives doctors more time to work with patients, rather than fidget with stationary devices.

“If you look at shaving off 5 minutes from every patient visit, due to just handling a mobile device instead of the stationary computer, you can see how much it adds up for every doctor, every day, across the entire hospital,” said Ghavami.

Look toward the future, though, says Ghavami, because for all of the new and exciting applications being delivered currently, he believes that in the coming years, even more efficiencies will be uncovered.

“The whole health care system is just starting to really explore and understand all the new and interesting workflows, which will bring even more efficiencies,” he said. “We’re just starting to experiment and learn from this mobility application. I think in the future, we will have far more interesting applications. We usually give doctors the technology and then they find really novel ways of using it. I think those are interesting things to watch in the future.”