Eight Keys to Connecting EHRs and Medical Imaging

In today’s connected world, a digital solution exists which can simplify and streamline virtually every system and process. Healthcare is certainly no exception – from the efficiency and security afforded to providers through electronic health records (EHRs) to innovative technologies, such as virtual doctors that connect patients with care that may have previously been inaccessible.

But despite all of the advantages technology offers within the medical care setting, the challenge of connectivity still remains. This is especially true in terms of EHRs and the various other systems that must “talk to” them. Medical imaging software, in particular, is often a cause for concern, as providers fear that they will have to replace their EHR in order to operate when using a system that is compatible with the imaging platform.

Fortunately, EHR-medical imaging connectivity is possible. However, there are important criteria that both systems must meet in order to ensure compatibility. In this article, we will examine the nine requirements for effectively connecting imaging software with an EHR.

The Top 8 requirements for EHR-Medical Imaging Connectivity

EHR Must Support an API Link - The ability to support an application programming interface (API) is essential to connectivity. This is not an uncommon feature among system vendors, and it will typically come in the form of an API to support third-party applications or via the URL integration method.

  1. Medical Imaging Software Must Enable a URL - Once you have confirmed that your EHR system will support an API link, it is important to confirm that your imaging software is capable of identifying an image for an individual patient via a URL link.

  2. Zero-Footprint Image Viewer - In order to properly present medical images, a zero-footprint image viewer is required. For diagnosis, an FDA-approved viewer should be used. A zero-footprint viewer is a system that allows medical personnel to view documents and images online with a web browser, rather than downloading software or client-side programs in order to view files. A zero-footprint viewer is versatile, as it allows staff to access images and files on any device, in any web browser, and from any location.

  3. Single Sign-On - Once a practitioner enters his or her credentials and accesses a medical image via the EHR system, he or she should not have to re-enter login information. This is an important efficiency feature which can save physicians and other medical staff valuable time on the floor.

  4. Records Maintained in Native Data Structures - Image files should not be stored in the same database as patient records, and, in some cases, image files are not even compatible with databases designed for medical records. In order to properly view image files in a resolution which is appropriate for clinical applications, an image should be in DICOM format. However, to ensure versatility and compatibility with all formats, it is important that non-DICOM images, such as JPEGs, are supported and viewable as well.

  5. Portable and Accessible Patient Records - Today’s healthcare processes are largely mobile, and imaging is certainly no exception. Virtually every medical image viewed by physicians today is digital. Thus, it is important for medical images to be accessible from any location and on any device. This portability of information allows for seamless access in any setting – different office locations, imaging centers, and specialists’ offices. The ability to retrieve images, regardless of location, is also critical to efficiency and collaboration between the providers involved in a patient’s plan of care. Such border-less access requires a location-less archive.

  6. Interoperability - Organizations should ensure that the imaging software which is selected has the ability to “talk to” other picture archiving and communication systems (PACS), in order to be able to share information and files between locations and care settings. The principle of single sign-on applies to interoperability as well, as PACSs connected via the gateway should not require the entry of credentials more than once.

  7. User-Friendly - There should only be a slight learning curve for staff working in imaging software. Both functionalities for medical personnel and patient access should be intuitive and easy-to-use.

  8. Security and Back-Ups - Images must be securely stored in order to prevent data loss and safeguard against emergency events. Images must also be automatically backed up in multiple locations which are separated by enough distance to ensure that a single incident does not place all files and digital copies in jeopardy.

Conclusion

While connecting an EHR to medical imaging software can present initial challenges and appear overwhelming, this is not an insurmountable undertaking, and it is one that is certainly worth pursuing in order to enable seamless processes and facilitate communication and collaboration throughout the care  continuum.

At ImageMoverMD, we understand the importance of connectivity for EHRs and medical imaging software. Our experienced team offers peace of mind through providing proven solutions that are capable of increasing the efficiency, organization, and accessibility of images and patient data for clinicians across all departments/specialties. Contact us today to learn what the ImageMoverMD difference can mean for your organization.