Effective radiology imaging solutions contain a mixture of components that work in sync, creating highly functional and successful imaging departments. A considerable part of the radiology construct is software. As much as high technology benefits healthcare, it's a daunting task to find the right information technology. Before making such a significant investment, radiology departments must examine the viability and performance of their current system to determine if new software is needed.
There are many indicators that a system needs to be freshened up or replaced. Some signs are subtle, and others may be as clear as writing on a wall, such as:
- A decline in patient volume
- Loss of revenue
- Referring doctors sending their patients to other facilities
- Billing errors slipping through unnoticed and causing a decline or delay in reimbursement
- Data entry mishaps negatively impacting patient outcomes
- Radiologists' reading stats for accuracy and speed spiraling
- Staff productivity decline
- Staff and radiologists constantly complaining about the present technology
- Loss of skilled staff
- Upgrades failing to meet the department's new needs
- Too many steps to get through the workflow
- Lengthy patient intake
- Increased soft costs from staff working in unnecessary time-consuming, manual processes
- Unintuitive software design with many steps
If any of those signs seem familiar to you, it's time to dive deeper into finding the right software.
What to know before you demo
Radiology imaging solutions are various practical remedies for problems in radiology and imaging centers. Before test-driving software potentials, departments must map out a list of needs and wants. Input from the radiologists, technologists, staff, and patients is essential to finding the best system for the department. Then, there's the issue of money. Finding a product that lines up with your needs while staying within budget is easier said than done. Will the new software generate revenue?
Software, like medical devices used to treat, diagnose, and prevent illnesses, require FDA approval. Compliant software is mandatory and means that the government has approved its safety and efficacy.
Be sure to look around for systems that will integrate with the current technology. The concept of taking two steps backward is apparent when an upgrade or new install doesn't play well with the system already in use. It can put a damper on workflow, slow down staff and radiologists, and impact patients. Also, different PACS vendors charge different amounts for HL7 interfaces. Don't choose one with high HL7 interfacing costs, or you might find yourself in a bind later when you try to integrate more products.
Get out there and ask around: call other imaging centers and learn about their software. Word-of-mouth is ideal for helping you decide what to demo and what to purchase.
Trade shows like RSNA are excellent networking events. Held in Chicago every year, RSNA is the largest imaging conference in the world. Sending department representatives to events like this is well worth the few days of hob-knobbing. Vendors, software companies, and device manufacturers are there to strut their stuff and debut cutting-edge radiology imaging solutions. Before leaving, get vendors’ details, especially phone numbers; salespeople are more than happy to come to a place of business and talk shop.
After compiling a list of radiology imaging software companies, compare reviews and packages. Which software deal will make the radiology department stand out among competitors? Which software company can customize a package? Which one offers 24/7 emergency recovery assistance online and in-person? Are the representatives cordial, professional, knowledgeable, and accommodating to department schedules? Will the company invest in a long-term relationship after the sale, with responsive, on-the-spot support and customer service to maximize product use? Which companies have multiple award-winning products, such as Novarad Enterprise Healthcare Solutions? What's the stability of the software company? Can they provide compliant upgrades in the future? A financially unstable software company can go under at any time, so it doesn't hurt to look at their investors.
When a vendor sets up a demo of their software product, they demonstrate what the system can do outside of a department. Of course, the final product may perform differently than the original presentation, considering staff use, scheduling, learning curves, implementation time, and the effect on patients, other departments, and other doctors. Nonetheless, the product should deliver.
A robust system should encompass a department's primary needs. Staff and patients need easy access to health information. Employee engagement and recruitment should elevate. The new software needs to blend with any remaining software systems. Software upgrades and new packages can help PACS, RIS, and scheduling modules perform more efficiently and faster. Reports and image sharing solutions should have mobile accessibility, like CryptoChart, which utilizes QR codes instead of passwords and portals. Revenue and referrals will increase, and radiologists' read time and accuracy should improve.
A demonstration of radiology software is an essential step in selecting the best fit for a department. Cut no corners: research products and their companies, and then research them again. Once the software is purchased and installed, good or bad, the department has to use the system for quite a long time.
Here at Novarad, we believe that the key to a successful imaging center is to work smarter, not harder, to deliver the type of care and outcomes that patients desire.
To see how we can help improve your workflows, feel free to reach out to our workflow specialists today!