Matching radiology infrastructure to your strategic plan

A new infrastructure transformational model for radiology

Beyond infrastructure

It’s just infrastructure. It sounds like a commodity and, many times, is treated that way.

Nonetheless without infrastructure, many of our achievements disappear. Asphalt and concrete are infrastructure yet, without highways, how would goods and services be exchanged efficiently and extensively? Pipes are infrastructure yet, without plumbing, how would urban growth happen and be managed productively?

The point is infrastructure is basic and fundamental. At the same time, it is an essential element for innovation and advancement in our society.

Integration technology is infrastructure for radiology groups, practices, and departments. Historically, choosing the particular integration technology to implement was based on what was “good enough” to solve the immediate, internal application interfacing issues. And “good enough” often meant the most basic solution.

But in today’s connected healthcare environment, “good enough” is de-valuing what the right infrastructure can deliver—strategically and operationally—for radiology groups.

The mindset needs to change to view infrastructure not as “dull and boring,” but as an exciting and influential way to build innovative approaches that solve real productivity and transmission issues within your organization.

The right radiology IT infrastructure can move an organization beyond basic interfacing needs, to creating a tangible strategic edge in a diverse and ever-expanding healthcare community.

Infrastructure transformational model

Transforming infrastructure into innovative leverage for your radiology group is essential to realizing the strategic and operational goals set forth within your strategic plans.

Many radiology groups are moving through the various transformational levels in order to gain “step” improvements and real results, rather than minor incremental changes.

The Infrastructure Transformational Model is illustrated at below.

Infrastructure Transformation Model Illustrating IT Alignment with Strategic and Operational Plans vs. Operational Preformance

Level 1: application management

Level 1 infrastructure is focused on applicationto-application integration—getting data from Application A to Application B. It is a straightforward approach to solving an immediate problem, but the ability to leverage the interface deployed is almost non-existent. Minimal performance improvement is achieved and there is little, if any, connection between this approach and a radiology group’s strategic and operational plans. It is a stand-alone solution that solves a stand-alone problem.

Level 2: transaction management

Level 2 infrastructure is focused on building some leverage into the IT environment. Typically, this may be implementing an interface engine to manage the patient demographic information, orders, and results transmission between your various applications (e.g., RIS, PACS, billing, etc.). It allows a bit more internal management of the data and interfaces such that your radiology group no longer relies heavily on vendors and does have some level of independence.

But this approach is still only “good enough” in the sense that it has yet to break into the realm of true strategic planning and innovation. It is viewed simply as application infrastructure, gaining efficiencies without real linkage to the organization’s strategic direction.

Level 3: accelerating workflow

Level 3 infrastructure is workflow oriented and creates better operational alignment for all patient data flows into and out of your radiology group or imaging center. In this approach, radiology workflows are documented in their current state as well as in an ideal, future state. Then plans are put in place to close the gaps by utilizing automation and integration platforms.

With the focus on workflows, an internal perspective is combined with an external one. This allows for acceleration of workflows that typically do not happen solely within the four walls of a radiology group. The outside-in and inside-out perspectives are tied to the strategic direction of your radiology group, with a clear objective of improving key performance metrics.

Level 4: leveraging workflow

Level 4 infrastructure is a robust approach that combines the workflow and external perspectives of Level 3 infrastructure, with the ability to leverage, refine, and harness data. This approach creates strategic insights into business operations and productivity by turning raw data into valuable business operation information, which can then be powerfully utilized to gain step improvements in key strategic and operational goals.

With this approach, there is a tight coupling between infrastructure and strategic planning processes. Data insights can be gathered to enhance performance and workflow results, and trends can be monitored to create real accountability. With this top-of-the-line approach, the right infrastructure is in place to provide the flexibility to support and realize the strategic plans and goals of your radiology group.

Creating a platform for innovation and results

Aligning your it infrastructure with your strategic plan

With the right solution, the IT infrastructure can become the backbone of support for broader strategic plans and can move your radiology group to the top of the strategic ladder.

The best infrastructure platform moves beyond interface connectivity and into real operational leverage for your organization. This type of strategic support can only be achieved through an infrastructure platform that combines multiple elements: an integration solution, a connected community solution, a workflow logic solution, and decision support capabilities.

The cooperative interaction within this type of IT infrastructure enables strategic support by:

  • Facilitating data collection and analysis for any connected application or client, in a customizable format
  • Creating real accountability within and outside of your radiology group by analyzing data trends
  • Decreasing overall business and operational costs by leveraging data flows in new ways to support defined strategic goals
  • Reducing cycle time in meeting new integration requirements and streamlining key workflows
  • Improving turn-around time for patients by improving efficiency of workflows and productivity of radiologists
  • Increasing business by decreasing turn-around times for delivering patient reports electronically and seamlessly to a referring physician

It is not simply infrastructure. The mindset needs to change.

The right infrastructure is the key enabling foundation to realizing any radiology group’s strategic plan.

Key Action 1: Review your strategic plan and identify which goals require an innovative, Level 4 infrastructure in place to realize those goals.

Increasing strategic operability

A robust radiology infrastructure solution creates a new integration life-cycle by meeting the new, intense demands for more interfaces in a resource-productive manner. It also enables quick deployment of connections for new business opportunities, which then results in quicker expansion and growth for the radiology group.

For example, participating in Health Information Exchanges (HIE) can be viewed as insurmountable. But in reality it can be achieved in a practical, innovative manner. The politics of participating in an HIE are the challenging part, connecting into an HIE is the easy part. That point may be debatable. However, it comes down to the controllable elements—viewing infrastructure as the foundation to achieve strategic goals effectively.

While a basic solution might enable basic interfaces, a thoroughly developed platform can provide certain advantages like:

  • Leverage to extend quickly outside the four walls of your radiology group and establish electronic communication with your hospitals or physician practices
  • Support for an unlimited number of integrated applications, enabling you to successfully meet growing demands for connected care
  • Low learning curves and scalability costs, and elimination of special programming skills for IT staff
  • Connecting to remote locations, leveraging newer technologies and communication vehicles

Key Action 2: Review your infrastructure and identify the leverage points to support your strategic plan's call for greater interoperability to external organizations.

Doing more, with less

Radiology groups often rely heavily on vendors to build and maintain interfaces. If an issue were to arise with patient data or image transmission, it might take days of back and forth contact with the vendor to resolve the issue.

With the right infrastructure in place, your radiology group can build interfaces without vendor coordination or interaction. This allows your group to increase connectivity without also increasing workload or costs, and creates better efficiency through the ability to resolve issues in-house. The hassle of waiting on vendors is eliminated, and interfacing control moves to your hands.

With this mindset and approach, the radiology group becomes a true service organization, enabling the strategic plan while delivering new levels of support for all workflows and client requirements.

The bottom line

Doing more with less is happening today by leveraging infrastructure in new ways.

Key Action 3: Identify the areas in which your radiology group is being asked to do more with less. Review your infrastructure to determine how it can facilitate meeting this objective while meeting new objectives being driven by clients.

Taking a fresh look at your radiology infrastructure

For radiology groups, evaluating your existing IT infrastructure and integration platform as a core strategic element will modify key purchasing decisions. And focusing on the right infrastructure will enable powerful delivery of other key business initiatives.

The right infrastructure moves beyond connectivity into creating real advantages for your organization in the areas of operational effectiveness and strategic advantage. It moves you up the strategic ladder from basic connectivity and minimal operational independence, to better workflows and a substantial strategic advantage.

A fresh look at infrastructure translates to better integration capabilities and a more connected healthcare community, and allows you to run your radiology group in the most efficient and effective manner possible.

Take three straightforward actions to determine where you stand today:

  • Key action 1  Review your strategic plan and identify which goals require an innovative, Level 4 infrastructure in place to realize those goals.
  • Key action 2  Review your infrastructure and identify the leverage points to support your strategic plan’s call for greater interoperability to external organizations.
  • Key action 3  Identify the areas in which your radiology group is being asked to do more with less. Then review your infrastructure to determine how it can facilitate meeting this objective, while at the same time can allow you to meet new objectives being driven by workflow and client requirements.

About Corepoint Health

Corepoint Health has the healthcare IT experience and strength to deliver a dramatically simplified approach to internal and external data integration and health information exchange for hospitals, radiology centers, laboratories, and clinics.

Our next generation software solutions are transformational and will streamline your IT environment, provide a fast track to achieving your interoperability goals, and create operational leverage within your organization. Corepoint Health’s solutions achieve a needed balance of being both intuitive and sophisticated while delivering solid functionality and performance.

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