Mobile, Community Case Management: A Coming Trend in Radiology Informatics

August 17, 2011

Many physicians are stuck in a middle-ground: They are still paid based on volume but are being asked to look more at value. In the transition, it’s hard to make good decisions about investing in new technologies. Here's an example of one product that can work now and in the future.

Plenty of radiologists are tired of being order-takers. They look forward to the day when they can be compensated not for how many studies they do, but how well they help patient outcomes.

For right now, though, many physicians are stuck in a middle-ground. They are still paid based on volume but are being asked to look more at value. In the transition, it’s hard to make good decisions about investing in new technologies.

The sweet spot is products that work now, but also will benefit your practice in the long run.

Here’s one example:

Integrated Document Solutions (IDS) is promoting a new app called AbbaDox Rad. It’s a tool that lets referring physicians see radiology images on any browser, including mobile devices. They can see images when and where they want.

Unlike some other referring physician tools, this technology does not pull directly from the PACS, so it doesn’t slow down your system. Images are pre-loaded. It’s not a mini-PACS either, in the sense that it’s not a separate system for the radiology practice to maintain. It’s fully browser-based. You don’t even need a VPN connection to your referrers. Plus it includes basic reports as well as images. “It’s not just PACS for images, and not just RIS for the report or text,” explained Yaniv Dagan, CEO of IDS. “This does both in one.”

The tool has obvious benefits in a volume-based model. The more you can keep referrers happy, they more cases they refer.

And physicians do seem to love mobile work. Research firm Knowledge Networks reported in March 2011 that 27 percent of physicians in the United States had a tablet computer, which is about five times the general public's adoption rate. Forty percent of physicians own or plan on owning an iPad or other tablet in the next 10 months, according to UBM Medica’s research.

So a program like this works now to build referrals and reduce costs. Dagan estimated the average radiology practice spends $100 per month per site burning CDs or printing film.

But it will also work in the future to help radiologists more easily collaborate with other community physicians. Quickly sharing findings, making reports easy to access anywhere, having easy working relationships outside your office – these are all keys to more accountable care.

What other products do you think are ideal for this transition from volume to value?