September 15, 2022Read More
It’s a few months till November, but planning is already underway for this year’s Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) annual meeting in Chicago. Preparing for this year’s conference inspired me to reflect back on my experience at RSNA 2021.
Last year, the theme of “Redefining Radiology,” was a call to action for attendees to share perspectives about new ideas and transformative technologies that permeate imaging practices and the patient experience. In his plenary talk, James A. Brink, MD, the Radiologist-in-Chief at Massachusetts General Hospital, stressed the need for radiology to be the driver of innovation within healthcare and this notion of radiology as a healthcare leader resonated throughout the conference.
Radiology as a Driver of Innovation and Information
The research presented at RSNA 2021 indicated how much innovation has really evolved in diagnostic imaging, but the data from imaging studies can also offer intel on future patient and healthcare system challenges. That intel was notable in a study revealing significant decreases in CT imaging for cancer during the pandemic could lead to more advanced cancers and poorer outcomes for patients in the future.
While the implication is discernibly dire for patients, the rise in demand for complex cancer care equates to an influx of patients requiring specialty care across several providers, resulting in more requests to transfer imaging records from clinic-to-clinic. Relying on dated technology like CDs and siloed systems could undermine continuity in care for thousands of patients, reinforcing the urgency to implement interoperable systems with seamless data exchange capabilities.
Technology That Helps, Not Hurts
Connecting disparate patient and provider touchpoints was a challenge for the informatics vendors, and a familiar computing platform was lauded as the central solution. With a dedicated exhibition hub, vendors had opportunities to showcase artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities designed to improve efficiency and effectiveness. Some highlights included populating diagnostic imaging reports, scheduling patient appointments based on predicted exam duration and tracking productivity and errors.
Some of these capabilities were on display at the Imaging AI in Practice (IAIP) demonstration, where vendors took us through real world clinical scenarios and integrated AI technologies within the diagnostic radiology workflow. This year, PocketHealth will be a presenter at the IAIP and you’ll get a firsthand look at how the platform seamlessly integrates with the Post-Imaging AI Workflow.
These innovations serve to smooth over a dreaded part of the imaging process for radiologists – administration. There’s always backlash around adding another tool to the stack because “radiologists count clicks” – an adage echoed by the radiology IT and PACS administrators I spoke with. They were well-aware of the burnout, exhaustion and work constraints felt by their medical staff. The pandemic exacerbated a growing issue across medicine that’s still a major concern in 2022.
The burnout is so prevalent that adding tools that complicate the tech stack will not get buy-in from radiologists. They reject digital solutions that add unnecessary complexity to workflows and cause slow implementations, clunky platforms and minimal customer support. Providers are not just looking for replacements to current solutions but want to invest in what will bring added value over and above what they currently have.
Measuring Returns on Investment (ROI)
Quantifying the value of technology and assessing ROI is increasingly important. In all of the panels I attended, it became clear that both vendors and healthcare organizations feel pressure to provide ROI and share data-driven results. It’s no longer enough to invest in technology that’s nice to have — rising costs and competition for patients have made it imperative to invest in must-have solutions with proven impact.
ROI is not just the bottom line. The value technology brings to patients and quality of care is equally important. Even through discussions of burnout and saving costs, providers and vendors shared the same goal – improving care and health outcomes for patients.
Shifting the Culture to Patient Centered Care
Technology has become a key enabler for providers to empower their patients by putting them at the center of their own care journey. In recent years, patient-centricity became a buzzword, with providers using it interchangeably with “quality of care.” But at RSNA, presenters unpacked the intent behind the term, moving beyond the jargon and showcasing how they’re transforming the patient experience.
At his plenary session, James Merlino, MD, chief clinical transformation officer at Cleveland Clinic, said that patient centricity starts with respect, communication and empathy from HCPs. But it takes a cultural shift to meet those needs, and that comes from training, effective communication among HCPs and putting the patient experience at the center of all processes.
Dr. Merlino was talking about transparency – not just among providers, but for patients too. Giving patients access to their own imaging records is not just helpful, it’s vital to helping them understand their health and what they can do to maintain it.
Looking Ahead to November
Reminiscing about RSNA 2021 fuels my excitement to bring PocketHealth back to McCormick Place for 2022. While last year’s meeting sought to redefine radiology, this year’s conference will double down on patient-centered care, focusing on radiology’s role and responsibility in creating a health care environment best suited to the patient’s needs.
The 2022 agenda cements patient-centricity as a key tenet of radiology, although it can and should be applied to all areas of medicine. EHRs should be comprehensive and include medical imaging, clinical reports, test results and vaccination records. Patients should have the ability to review and share their entire medical history instantaneously. Giving patients full control over their own data, generates an ROI reflected by increased efficiencies, cost reduction, fewer errors and, ultimately, better patient care – validated in countless medical studies.
At this year’s conference, expect more workflow solutions using AI and other advanced technologies. But mostly, expect speakers to give candid lectures on patient experience, strengthening provider-patient relationships and humanistic approaches to radiology practice.
When you listen to the latest data and technology presented at conferences like RSNA, it’s clear that providers want solutions that will help them work smarter, not harder. PocketHealth is accelerating the movement to simplify the process of sharing imaging records, while putting patients at the center of their care. Providers count on us, not just to deliver a frictionless experience for radiologists, but to be a partner in taking care of patients and their data.
Join us at RSNA! Stop by booth #8012 to learn more about PocketHealth or plan ahead and book a meeting here.