Hospitals turn to EHRs to create deeply integrated imaging system

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and Virtua, a Southern New Jersey health system, have created a shared diagnostic imaging partnership they claim goes beyond the conventional health information exchange.

According to an article in InformationWeek, the two organizations formed a diagnostic imaging partnership in which their electronic health records capture medical images and radiology reports from each other and synchronize them so that the information can be accessed by both parties.

CHOP and Virtua created an integrated business process where records of patients registered under the shared diagnostic imaging partnership are matched between their EHRs. For example, if no record for a child exists in CHOP's EHR, a new record is created using the patient identification number from Virtua.

There are specific benefits to this partnership. For instance, if a patient's family needs radiology services, they can be performed at both CHOP and Virtua. "We wanted to make it so New Jersey patients could have images done in their own backyard," CHOP IT Director Gayle Stidsen-Smith told InformationWeek. "Those images would reside in both the Virtua electronic medical record as well as the CHOP medical record, even though they're completely different systems with different database structures."

In addition, the ability to share images means that there is less likelihood that a patient will have to undergo duplicate imaging--a growing concern considering the potential cancer risks associated with ionizing radiation, particularly among pediatric patients.

Programs such as Image Share, a network that allows radiologists to share medical images with patients using personal health accounts, help informed patients to avoid duplicative or repeat scans, and also facilitate their ability to quickly get second opinions.

Image sharing through the cloud also has the potential to reduce costs while improving care at breast centers, according to a presentation given at the National Consortium of Breast Centers annual conference last spring.

To learn more:
- read the article in InformationWeek

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