What has your experience been like using an integration engine?
It’s been spectacular. I’ve said it many times before, without the integration engine, we wouldn’t be nearly as successful as we are today. We wouldn’t have nearly the amount of information to help us do our work today. The fact that we were able to get all of our hospitals onto a common dictation system is tremendous for us. The biggest thing is that the radiologists get to use the same tool everywhere they go, which is big.
We provide services to 13 hospitals and multiple specialty practices plus our own imaging center. Previously, our physicians had 15 different workflows because everywhere they went there was a different workflow. At least now, there is a common dictation system for them, and that helps them to provide better service and turnaround times. We have taken turnaround times from days to minutes, and we couldn’t do that without our interface engine.
The other thing it does for us is that the interface engine provides us all the wonderful information that is in those messages. We peel that information out of the messages, put into a SQL database and then generate meaningful reports. That information is gold.
That’s the big thing for us with the integration engine. Smoothing out the workflow and having access to that good information.
Biggest surprise with the interface engine today, from 4-5 years ago?
Two things, I would say.
One is the data mining opportunity. Until I actually started seeing the data coming through the interface engine, and seeing the information that was in those messages, I did not recognize the significance of the data that was in there than just supporting the immediate operations of creating an order in PACS. Some of the initial goals were just to get the order and then fill the order. So really, just taking a look and realizing the value of the data in the HL7 messages.
The second thing I didn’t really anticipate was developing applications around that data, such as QA (quality assurance) reporting and capturing information as a natural extension of the workflow. Without an integration engine, we’d have to do what everybody else does by buying a third party application that the radiologist has to take time out of their normal workflow to participate in for QA purposes and critical finding notification and documentation. Because we’re using this common dictation system, and all those messages are flowing through, we are able to capture important information. A lot of that we didn’t anticipate.
Currently, we’re actually looking at driving our workflow off of the HL7 messages instead of from the PACS database. We have so much more flexibility with the HL7 messages, and we can do it ourselves. We can pull order information out of the HL7 messages, put it into a SQL database, and build our workflow off of that. It’s a big project, but I’m sure were going to do it. There is just too much value there for us. Besides, who wants to wait around for a vendor to do it when we have great enabling software?
Joe Moore is the CIO at Radiology Consultants of Iowa. As Iowa’s largest group of radiologists, Radiology Consultants of Iowa (RCI) has been providing Eastern Iowa communities with radiological services for more than 70 years. At RCI facilities, they offer the latest in high-technology medical imaging services such as High Field (1.5T) MRI-MRA, Open MRI, Spiral CAT Scan, Ultrasound, Color Doppler, Mammography, DEXA and QCT Bone Densitometry, SPECT Nuclear Medicine, Positron Emission Tomography Imaging (PET) and Computed Radiography (CR). / RCI takes pride in their staff of Board Certified radiologists who have advanced training in the areas of Nuclear Medicine, Neuroradiology, Muskuloskeletal Radiology, Chest Radiology, Body Imaging, Mammography, Ultrasound, and Interventional Radiology. www.rciowa.com