The significant financial challenges facing the healthcare industry are nothing short of intimidating. In addition to the millions of Baby Boomers now eligible for Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act, Meaningful Use regulations, and ICD-10 transition, just to name a few, have created a running expense tab for healthcare organizations, and no one with the resources to pay the bill. In fact, a study from the The Advisory Board states that hospitals that continue operating at their current pace could face as much as a 19 percent drop in profit margin over the next 10 years.
While hospitals are struggling to continually meet changing industry regulations, they’re also challenged with developing cost containment strategies to mitigate significant financial losses. One way some are improving efficiencies and lowering overhead costs is by reducing unnecessary medical imaging. An estimated $12 billion is wasted every year in the United States on duplicate or unneeded medical imaging. That number is staggering, and radiology departments have the opportunity to improve their organization’s financial integrity through minimizing hardware costs and the human capital needed to support it.
Share the image, share the value
The cloud is offering a price-disruptive alternative to traditional business models and processes across most industries today— and healthcare is no exception. A recent HIMSS survey found 83 percent of healthcare organizations are using cloud-based apps today, with cost savings cited as the #1 reason.
In addition to aiding hospitals in their efforts toward clinical integration, cloud-based image sharing streamlines workflows, allowing physicians to focus on the quality of patient care. “The cloud delivers stronger clinical integration with other providers by enabling better communication and accountability. It’s able to provide the holy grail of both high value and low cost,” says Carlos Carrasco, chief operating officer at Orlando Regional Medical Center.
Driving better patient care requires no business case
Once a hospital joins a cloud-based image exchange, the staff and referring providers can store, share, and access patient images in real time. In addition, physicians can send and receive medical images from anywhere via their mobile devices, providing them with real-time access to critical information that they can then use to discuss best treatment options.
“Delivering high-quality care in a timely fashion aligns with our organizational mission,” explains Carrasco. “Using a cloud-based medical image exchange has allowed us to improve our level of support to our patients and other health institutions as we can see the images beforehand and, as a result, be more prepared when a patient arrives.”
Closer clinical integration between healthcare organizations is becoming increasingly more important and tools, such as medical image sharing, not only enable better communication, but create greater accountability, too. It is a piece of a much larger commitment and infrastructure that needs to be in place to enable better care coordination and deliver better value to patients across all organizations. As we continue to drive toward accountable care organizations (ACOs), hospitals and health systems need to modify their business models and take one giant leap for mankind with a sharing environment that prepares them for the future of promoting better, healthier patient populations. The cloud is one component of that transition.
Looking ahead and up
While policy makers are pushing for ways to emphasize quality of care, hospitals are looking to seamlessly integrate and deliver quality care at a lower cost. With billions of dollars wasted annually in healthcare, , hospitals are turning to the cloud for imaging sharing to ease integration, decrease redundancy and reduce costs. But most importantly, they are using it to streamline communication throughout the continuum of care.