Medicalis promotes software to make better radiology decisions

May 30, 2006

Executives at Kitchener, ON-based Medicalis want to help referring physicians and radiologists make the right decisions. The company has come up with Web-based software that helps physicians at the point of care choose the right imaging exam based on its clinical appropriateness and the likelihood of receiving reimbursement for it.

Executives at Kitchener, ON-based Medicalis want to help referring physicians and radiologists make the right decisions. The company has come up with Web-based software that helps physicians at the point of care choose the right imaging exam based on its clinical appropriateness and the likelihood of receiving reimbursement for it.

The software, called Percipio, doesn't stop there. Once the right choice is made, Percipio opens a screen that allows online scheduling of the exam at a participating facility and access to the results from that exam.

While it might sound a little like cookbook medicine, it definitely is not, said John C. DeLong, executive account manager for Medicalis. That's because of how the company approaches the delivery of its medical rules.

"We are not asking what is wrong with the patient and telling the physician, "Here is what you should do," he said. "The software provides the knowledge that a well-trained physician needs to make the right medical decision."

The company's evidence-based radiology guidelines are being integrated, under a nonexclusive agreement, into Cerner's IT product, Millennium (DI SCAN 4/27/06, Cerner unveils 'smart' function at SIIM meeting). This configuration, updated with context-specific guidelines, will be available later this year. In the meantime, Medicalis is shopping Percipio to radiology departments, physicians' groups, and third-party payers. The software can be installed at any of these, which can establish links to the others.

"If it is installed at a large radiology integrated delivery network, it serves as an outreach to physicians and payers," DeLong said. "If it is installed in a physician group concerned with quality and efficiency of diagnostic orders, it creates relationships to performing radiology departments and payers. So there is this Web-type overlap."

The company is deep into the Boston area with installations at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Dana Farber, and Faulkner Hospital, as well as several nearby imaging centers. Percipio is also deployed at the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority in Manitoba, where the focus is on pediatric radiology.

How it works depends on where it's installed. If placed in a physician group, typically the care provider (after examining a patient) chooses a diagnostic procedure, such as a head CT, then enters the clinical information into Percipio. The rules-based software renders a conclusion on appropriateness, then opens a real-time scheduling tool that identifies open exam slots at nearby diagnostic facilities.

"Mrs. Smith (hey, that's me!) leaves the office with the requisition, prep instructions, and driving directions to the facility that the physician or staff has chosen," DeLong said.

Medicalis, a spin-off from the PACS/IT company Mitra that Agfa acquired some four years ago (DI SCAN 1/23/02, Mitra and Agfa join up), is positioning the software to serve as a kind of catalyst. The goal is to bring the different elements of healthcare together. If payers and providers agree on the rules regarding diagnostic tests, there will be fewer denied claims, according to DeLong. Expediting the scheduling process further improves efficiency.

"We are playing in the middle of the major stake holders of radiology," he said. "So that at the end of the day, we can assure patients they are getting the care they need, while reducing the costs for diagnostic healthcare."