Redefining the EMR

Posted on March 7, 2016 I Written By

The following is a guest blog post by Erin Wold, Account Based Marketing Program Manager at Hitachi Data Systems. You can follow Erin on Twitter: @ErinEWold
Erin Wold
Walking through the HIMSS 2016 exhibit hall, booth after booth I see interoperability this and interoperability that. So I decided to stop and ask the vendors, “When you say interoperability, what do you mean?” Answer after answer I heard, “We integrate with the EMR and other vendors to provide data into the patient record.” When asked to clarify what types of data, the majority mentioned all types of textual data. Never once did anyone respond with images of any sort. I actually got the response of “Why would enterprise imaging be at HIMSS?” when I asked “What about enterprise imaging?”

Here ladies and gentlemen lies our problem. When going to HIMSS vendors and attendees alike aren’t thinking of enterprise imaging for the most part. When you search for sessions, very few pop up when searching for imaging. This year’s HIMSS has seen a few more familiar faces from the imaging scene which is extremely exciting for the future of healthcare and patient engagement.

I was able to sit in on multiple imaging sessions and was lucky enough to go to one that was actually about enterprise imaging but neither were titled or tagged that way in the program. All great sessions with very informative information on why enterprise imaging is a must. It is not only easier for the point of care physician to access the patient record but it will increase patient care and reduce time between study and treatment.

As we move into the era where telemedicine is becoming a reality and anyone can receive care at their corner Walgreens, enterprise imaging is crucial to patient care. How do we get there?  How do we get the EHR gurus to work with the imaging gurus. After sitting through a session led by Alex Towbin, MD, Director of Radiology Informatics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital; I see how it needs to start.

It started right then and there after he said we must redefine EMR.  We as vendors and providers have defined the EMR as a repository for textual data. We have done ourselves a disservice and we now have to reverse it. The EMR should be a central location where the patients care team can enter ALL data that has been collected on that patient. In essence it should be more like your teenage cousin’s Facebook page where they put everything than your Myspace page from 10 years ago where nothing has been uploaded because you can’t remember the password to gain access.

I was shocked when John Hamlaka, MD, CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, presented that only 50% of pediatric scans are read by the correct sub-specialist. This is in part due to the referring physician, the radiologist and the sub specialist lacking a way to share these scans and therefore the sub-specialist never knew it existed. Enterprise Imaging makes way for this to happen. Other risks that arise because of a lack of enterprise imaging: double exposure to radiation, misdiagnoses, crucial lapse in time between scan and start of treatment, and an incomplete patient record.

A step in the right direction was taken this year at HIMSS by aligning with SIIM or the Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine and hosting dual sessions as well as a meet-up at the HIMSS Spot. Eighteen months ago they created a coalition of innovative members from both organizations. Moving forward it will take leaders from medical societies: HIMSS, SIIM, RSNA, ACR,  etc. Redefining  is only the beginning. While it seems like a long, hard road ahead we have to start somewhere.