Delivering key images, reports and patient data to the point of diagnosis and care is the Holy Grail of radiology and many other specialties today. Having the correct information for the patient at the right time for the radiologist or referring physician starts with having the right viewer.
Memorial Hospital at Gulfport in Mississippi has a vision for just that: Sectra UniView, a true zero-footprint web viewer that enables secure and easy access to medical images and related requests and reports from any location or device. It can provide referring physicians and other users with a single point of access to all information and multimedia stored in PACS. Being vendor-neutral, it can be used on different platforms and integrates with all leading EMR systems.
The need for a new viewer at Memorial emerged from a combination of growth and a need for speed and better and easier integration, says PACS Administrator Griff Van Dusen. Memorial has grown a lot in recent years, redesigning their healthcare delivery model and acquiring many physician groups. Growth surged during the rebuilding years post-Hurricane Katrina that hit the area in 2005. Licensed for 412 beds, Memorial is a Level II trauma center and one of the most comprehensive healthcare systems on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, including satellite outpatient diagnostic and rehabilitation centers and more than 95 Memorial Physician Clinics across three coastal counties of Mississippi.
Memorial has utilized Sectra Enterprise Image Management for 15 years. The system links three full-service imaging centers, as well as multiple clinics that utilize x-ray and ultrasound. Radiologists read remotely for the sites. Image access is immediate from any of the more than 95 locations, with referring physicians gaining easy access to images and reports via the viewer. When viewing reports, referring physicians click on a link the launches the study in the viewer.
Memorial is one of many Sectra users migrating from LiteView to UniView—at no cost to them. It’s also cost-efficient from an IT staffing perspective since it doesn’t require timely installs. And it comes at a good time for the hospital, Van Dusen says. “We’re always trying to make image access and viewing easier for all of our user types. This really does that. It’s a great product.”
UniView is part of the Sectra Enterprise Image Management infrastructure. It is safe and secure, with no patient data are cached on devices. It also supports clinical access control with patient lock, block and break glass functionality and both touch-based input and mouse and keyboard, for use on mobile devices or desktops and laptops.
The objective is easy and quick access to patient information. UniView’s enterprise-wide search capability allows users to search for information in a Google-like manner based on patient name, birth date and medical record number. Users have quick access to the information from any device.
Better search capabilities make patient history easier to navigate, reports are too. “It's very aesthetically pleasing from the user perspective,” Van Dusen says. “It’s more visual. It's more user-friendly for the referring physicians, because a lot of the referring physicians don't know PACS like radiology does.”
Ease of use and user friendliness are essential these days, with physicians needing to access so many systems every day. Van Dusen says physicians can launch UniView and navigate without formal training. “That's a big thing for us because we have more than 300 physicians on staff. It is so much easier than them having to call me to go to a clinic that's two counties away to show them how to use it. This is especially important with our expanded enterprise and facilities as we're so spread out.”
Physicians need to be able to open up the system and use it, Van Dusen notes. “They are exposed to so many different systems that the viewer needs to be easy. They don’t and shouldn’t care where the images and information are coming from,” he says. “That is our job and should be invisible to them. The truth of the matter is for the physician, we should be delivering information that he or she can just look at and intuitively gather rather than having to work for it.”
It’s the job of IT to make that happen. But it is the job of the vendor to make sure the viewer is easy to integrate with existing systems, according to Van Dusen. In this case, integration is smooth thanks to a lot of work by Sectra. “From our side, the integration is easy,” he says. “I don't have to install it, it's all zero client, it's all web-based. The URLs are just there, there is nothing that has to be installed on the computer. [Sectra] has worked through the integration with other systems and if they find a problem, they work to fix it. I really appreciate that. I know I can pick up the phone and get questions answered if I have them. Or if there's something we need, I have direct access to the developers and they respond to it.”
As Memorial has expanded the number of its facilities over recent years, the hospital is eyeing expansion of the viewer to other specialties outside of radiology. “Based on how helpful our physicians have found it, we know other specialists will benefit too,” he says.
Since UniView allows users to view and interact with images at high speed it can support the streaming of whole slide pathology images. Thus, the viewer allows physicians to gain a complete cancer patient overview that includes radiology images, non-DICOM images such as photos and videos, and pathology images.
The transition to UniView is “definitely a step in the right direction” to expand multi-ology capabilities across the enterprise, Van Dusen says. “The overall usability, appearance and functionality is greatly improved. It's zero footprint, lightweight, powerful and easier to use. It is the direction image reading and image viewing needs to take.”