By Trevor Bromley
With imaging technologies such as MR and CT, equipment manufacturers have, from the beginning, offered PACS or RIS workflow solutions in tandem with their scanners.
These software solutions make it possible for clinics, hospitals, and health systems to store and share medical images and facilitate appropriate documentation and billing for work performed. A similar solution has not been available for ultrasound systems used at the point of care, a portable technology that is increasingly being used in place of MR and CT, costlier and more invasive modalities. As point-of-care applications continue to expand and clinicians turn to them more often, hospitals and health systems need a way to manage the workflow, documentation, and credentialing functions associated with their use.
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As the pioneer of ultrasound systems designed and optimized for use at the point of care, Fujifilm SonoSite has responded to this need by developing the Synchronicity workflow manager for use with any point-of-care ultrasound system. Working primarily with customers in emergency departments, anesthesia units, and critical care, Fujifilm SonoSite learned that the most urgent priorities for these diverse user groups were to reduce administrative burden, improve documentation and revenue capture, and enable automatic quality assurance and credentialing. The resulting solution, Synchronicity, addresses these top priorities as well as enhanced workflow within and between hospital units.
Reducing administrative burden
The flexibility of point-of-care ultrasound is perhaps its best asset. It doesn’t face the same scheduling hurdles associated with MR or CT, it is portable, and it can be used to image parts of the body that would be difficult to image with another technology.
In this way, ultrasound machines designed for the point-of-care have made the patient side of the process (diagnosis/treatment) more efficient, but not kept up with the need to have better integration with electronic health records and computer/reporting systems and programs.
Synchronicity software addresses this need: it standardizes and streamlines exam orders and reporting; it has a DICOM viewer for accessing images immediately or calling up older images (e.g.,to compare patient progress); and it creates consistency across the clinic or hospital by standardizing reports and the content needed for each patient.
What does this efficiency look like in practice? First, the software pre-loads worksheets on the ultrasound system itself, so that a physician can come up to the system and select the study he or she wants to perform. From there a bar code on the ultrasound quickly scans the patient's ID bracelet (and the physician’s too, if applicable). That bar code is then tied directly into billing and used to code and transfer images to the associated PACS system.