How One Organization Cut Costs with Software as a Service

August 16, 2012

AHRA: Baystate Health System turned to a Software as a Service (Saas) model for 3D reconstruction, cutting costs in their CT department.

ORLANDO, Fla. - Jason Newmark was in a bind. His organization, the Baystate Health System in Springfield, Mass., was relying in a single trained technologist for all their CT 3D reconstructions. As their volumes had gone up, they had invested in the hardware, software and training for the reconstructions.

But when they discovered that single technologist was guilty of a major HIPAA violation, they were suddenly without someone to do the reconstructions. “The doctors wanted 3D reconstruction, and there goes my one person trained to do it,” said Newmark, Baystate’s director of diagnostic services, speaking at a session of the 2012 annual meeting of the AHRA, association for medical imaging management.

Without any other cross-trained staff, and radiologists reluctant to take on the duties, Newmark needed a solution fast, he said. He recalled a conversation with a Software as a Services (SaaS) vendor, 3DR Laboratories LLC in Louisville, Ken., and decided to pursue a cloud-based, outsourced option.

It turned out to be a very lucrative decision. The reconstruction process was up in three days, with no initial payments for set up or internal resources - and he cut out a full time employee.

“My radiologists were satisfied, the referring providers were happy,” he said. “It was a really good story.”

The hospital system continues to use a SaaS model for 3D reconstruction and has added another hospital to the contract. They are sending about 6.5 cases per day, and working to refine and develop new protocols, he said. “It’s not costing me a lot of money, and the quality is outstanding,” he said.

Deciding whether to select a SaaS model over the traditional hardware/software route should include weighing the costs and the benefits to the organization. SaaS applications are hosted by the vendor or service provider and made available over a network, usually the Internet or a secure VPN. An organization pays for what they need, and doesn’t have to purchase hardware or software.

The model eliminates costly purchases, cumbersome software updates, and extensive in-house IT support, said Robert Falk, MD, of 3DR Laboratories LLC. The option is scalable, so a facility can start with a smaller service and add on to it, he said, and it’s implemented quickly and easily.

“The benefits are simple,” he said, also speaking at the AHRA session. “It has to be better, faster, or cheaper.”

In Baystate’s case, outsourcing the 3D reconstruction saved them nearly $100 per case, which makes funding the training of dedicated technologists to do the job a tough sell, Newmark said.

Falk and Newmark offered a few questions to consider when evaluating a vendor:

• Will data be secure and what assurance requirements are in place?
• Will the service and support be available when it’s needed?
• Will the data be backed up appropriately and accessible if in case of a disaster?
• Will there be a loss of control of the data and service?
• What’s the turnaround time for reports, and is that detailed in the contract?