Instead of just being a small private practice radiology group, we had support for everything involved in enterprise PACS building through our contacts with SR. We will have a single point of access to our data center from anywhere, and that will allow us to push subspecialization and turnaround times as much as possible.
As the primary provider of radiology services in Northwest Georgia, Rome Radiology Group (RRG) was faced with an existential challenge familiar to many small- to medium-size radiology groups—invest in an enterprise PACS to improve the quality and efficiency of the care it provided to disparate health systems or watch quality and efficiency degrade.
“Reading on disparate information systems was becoming more of a reality for us because of the merger and acquisition activity at the hospitals we serve,” said Dan Phillips, MD, neuroradiologist and breast imaging subspecialist with RRG. “As facilities diverge with their own PACS products, over time we would become less efficient as a radiology practice. Our patient care would be compromised because of the lack of comparison studies and integration of patient exams that are best focused on a local and regional level—not national.”
In the interest of quality and efficiency and to maximize subspecialization across seven hospital sites, the 14-radiologist RGG began the process of vetting various vendors capable of building a single platform from which the radiologists and their referring clinicians could access any study regardless of where it was acquired—or where the radiologist was located.
“We didn’t want to take on the expense of a PACS—that is not something anyone wants to do—but we felt it was necessary to assume that burden ourselves and opt for extreme ownership,” Dr. Phillips explained. “By owning that, we could create the product we wanted.”
Support from All Sides
Timing was in RGG’s favor because a coinciding Strategic Radiology initiative that would provide members with a hosted PACS solution (SR) via an SR Enterprise License agreement for IntelePACS and Clario SmartWorklist from Intelerad was nearing completion. When the ink dried, RRG was able to save 36% by implementing via the SR Enterprise License versus a standalone implementation, with the potential to save more as collective volume within the coalition increases.
According to Dr. Phillips, having the support of Carlos Lugo, SR Director of Clinical Operations, was instrumental in achieving RGG’s goals. “Instead of just being a small private practice radiology group, we had support for everything involved in enterprise PACS building through our contacts with SR,” he said. “We will have a single point of access to our data center from anywhere, and that will allow us to push subspecialization and turnaround times as much as possible.”
“Working with Dr. Phillips, Rome Radiology Group, and the Intelerad team was very gratifying,” Mr. Lugo said. “We designed our program to meet the needs of a very diverse membership that includes small groups without IT onboard as well as large groups that prefer to own and maintain IT infrastructure.”
Mr. Lugo helped RGG evaluate different PACS platforms and vendors for establishing a basic framework around an enterprise PACS solution that could eventually serve all coverage sites—currently seven hospitals and five outpatient imaging centers. “Up to this point, Rome Radiology had never employed any IT personnel, relying instead on the hospitals and clinics that we supported,” Dr. Phillips explained. “The support of SR and Carlos Lugo has been tremendous in helping us get our platform off the ground.”
Stepping Up—In More Ways Than One
As other groups start using the SR Enterprise License for PACS, ROI will improve across the SR coalition. “Any new group that opts into the program will immediately benefit by the existing Rome Radiology volume that is on the system,” Dr. Phillips added. “As we build volume together as a Team of Teams, we all share in the cost savings.”
Scott Bundy, MD, FACR, Chair and CEO, Strategic Radiology, recognized RGG for appreciating the value of the SR Enterprise License and being willing to opt in as the first user. “Not only did Dr. Phillips and the entire Rome Radiology Group blaze the trail to savings for all SR users, but they made a significant investment on behalf of their patients, their referring clinicians, and their hospital partners, as well as their own well-being.”
RGG went live with its first hospital implementation in October 2021, and a second implementation is scheduled for February 2022. Over the next 12 months, RRG hopes to convince all seven hospital partners to share imaging data on the RRG platform, a process complicated by the national hospital consolidation trend. “There have been challenges because of the mergers and acquisitions and outside influences into our market,” Dr. Phillips noted. “It doesn’t do us any good to share in an enterprise PACS solution that consolidates patient data from outside of the state. A national consolidation model does not support the localized environment where health care happens for the patient. I think radiologists have an opportunity to step up, be creative, and try to overcome that disconnect.”
Meanwhile, RGG is realizing its strategic objective to distribute imaging studies across a single platform to maximize subspecialization. “It will be a read from anywhere platform: from home, at a radiology bunker, or at one of our hospitals,” he said. “The fact that it is a unified platform creates an opportunity for radiologists to operate at their best.”
Hub is the monthly newsletter published for the membership of Strategic Radiology practices. It includes coalition and practice news as well as news and commentary of interest to radiology professionals.
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