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6 ingredients for a successful enterprise imaging strategy

By Andrew Rebhan

February 3, 2017

    Enterprise imaging is one of the latest buzz terms in the health IT market, and provider organizations and IT vendors are both rushing to figure out which elements are necessary for a successful deployment strategy. In June 2016, IT vendor lifeIMAGE commissioned a survey of 100 member executives of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) organization to gain their views on imaging needs and challenges. Key findings from the survey suggest an enterprise imaging strategy is among the top priorities for health care organizations, and interoperability/exchange of imaging data is a key challenge.

    Enterprise imaging encompasses all images generated from specialty departments (radiology, cardiology, dermatology, etc.) as well as scope camera recordings, smartphone camera pictures, or any other related clinical content generated across a health care organization's service lines. An enterprise imaging strategy defines how the organization will capture, store, view, manage, and distribute all of this multimedia content across all departments and service sites as needed. For many hospitals and health systems, an enterprise imaging strategy's end goal is to enhance the electronic health record, as it allows for greater access to all structured and unstructured clinical content for a longitudinal patient record.

    Here are six components to consider as your organization starts to build out its enterprise imaging strategy:


    A successful enterprise imaging strategy requires an engaged governance group that includes different clinical, administrative, and IT stakeholders. Governance should be addressed early on, as it helps to oversee the formulation of an enterprise strategy, while also creating a roadmap for implementation. Effective governance is key to not only break down cultural resistance to IT changes, but to also hold staff accountable for increased information sharing across service lines.

    Enterprise viewer

    An enterprise viewer provides unified, system-wide visibility into disparate picture archiving and communication systems (PACS). With these viewers, users are no longer restricted to managing study volumes at a particular site and can read scans from across the system on any desktop, laptop or mobile device.

    Vendor neutral archive (VNA)

    A VNA provides standards-based, long-term storage of clinical imaging data that can be accessed by any PACS or other systems that view or create clinical content. Apart from its ability to store and share images in many different formats, a VNA also offers clinical lifecycle management, disaster recovery services and a central repository that can reduce costs associated with PACS replacement or consolidation.

    Image exchange

    Historically, health care organizations have relied on the use of ad hoc, point-to-point sharing of clinical data through CDs and other physical media, which is not only costly, but delays care and increases security risks. Image exchange services enable specialists like radiologists to share images with providers in and outside of the care delivery network, regardless of the facility of origin. Image exchange not only makes it easier to view and manage images on demand, but helps reduce unnecessary scans and manage incidental findings. Many image exchange solutions are deployed as web-based services.

    Workflow solutions

    Clinical workflows enable radiologists and other medical specialists to store, direct, and synchronize images and other related clinical data across the enterprise. These solutions use algorithms to assign a study to the correct user based on parameters such as subspecialty, user access rights and preferences, worklist length, time, and facility.


    An enterprise imaging platform offers a wealth of clinical data that can boost quality metrics and help support population health initiatives. Analytics solutions that are placed on top of this enterprise infrastructure can provide health care organizations with detailed use statistics, cost reports, and image acquisition patterns. As this technology evolves, more advanced tools will offer prescriptive, actionable information to providers at the point of care. For example, analytics will be able to help determine which types of images are most valuable for a diagnosis and treatment plan.

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