In 2001, the United States Postal Service handled 104 billion pieces of first-class mail.1 It was a preferred way to stay in touch with friends and family, and to take care of business. By 2016, that number had dropped by 40% to just 62 billion pieces.1 However, worldwide email usage has grown to 3.8 billion users, with 281 billion emails sent and received each day in 2018.2 Why the shift? Electronic communication fills the undeniable need for convenience and expediency. Software subscriptions for healthcare imaging parallel that thinking. Having the latest clinical capabilities at the fingertips of your team provides patient care benefits you expect, and some advantages you might find surprising.
Medical imaging software in summary
Modern medical imaging equipment is a sophisticated amalgamation of machinery and software-driven technology. Software models are continually evolving, with advanced imagery, reconstruction capabilities, features, and functionality. Without those updates, the product life cycle of equipment is shortened substantially. A software subscription resolves the issue. It is a cost-effective means of extending the useful life of equipment while delivering the latest capabilities to the front lines of healthcare.
With a software licensing model (rather than a perpetual license), each machine receives the latest software updates as they become available.
Taking care of patients
Having the latest clinical capabilities on your device is an obvious factor in providing the highest level of patient care. Patients are seen by a team who has access to leading-edge tools for diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up, resulting in the best clinical exam with the lowest dose. A patient can receive the same quality of care at the facility he or she prefers, closest to home, knowing it is on par with other locations. These factors are important to a patient-centered approach, and when advertised effectively, they support the referring physician’s choice of your healthcare system, thus increasing patient confidence.
Taking care of the staff
Jobs in radiology are high stress. Many departments are understaffed, so the team is overworked3, and considering the vital nature of exams, stakes are high as patient outcomes are potentially life and death.
According to a 2015 article in Diagnostic Imaging4, the increase in work volume is a primary factor. In the article, Peter Moskowitz, MD, a clinical professor of radiology at Stanford University School of Medicine said, “It seems every year that the number of cases and the daily work volume seems to be getting greater at a time when there is pressure to increase individual work productivity. There is tremendous pressure on radiologists to work more and do it faster and that stress is the major problem.”4
A software subscription service can go a long way toward relieving unnecessary stressors that add to the emotional burden of the department:
- The team feels good about providing the latest clinical capabilities for the best patient care possible.
- Smoother scheduling can be achieved. Instead of overloading the most updated machine while the older one idles, the workflow is balanced better.
- It eliminates the ethical dilemma of which patients to schedule on the updated scanner, and who is relegated to lower-grade diagnostics.
- Staff prefer to read images incorporating the newest innovations.3
- A subscription service helps to ensure consistency. It can be difficult to evaluate the success of treatment if follow-up imaging is performed on equipment with older software than was used for the initial scans.
Taking care of business
In order to provide excellence in patient care and a satisfying workplace environment, a healthcare system must remain financially viable. Taking care of business means minding the margin.
A 2016 article in Radiology Business5 emphasized the impact of that concept on the radiology department. “Lynne Roy, MBA, director at the S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California said, “We have to prioritize the entire medical system’s needs when it comes to replacing existing equipment. There are competing needs. That’s why we have some pieces of equipment that are past end of life.”5
In a recent interview, Ken Denison, Global Director of Marketing for Digital, MICT at GE Healthcare emphasized, "Today it is less about buying new hardware all the time, and it's more and more about keeping your software up to date."3 A software subscription helps to squeeze a little more use out of existing equipment, potentially postponing acquisition of new hardware. Especially important to large, multi-location enterprises, a software subscription provides a practical means to keep all equipment current. It's a simpler option than falling behind on software and have to purchase multiple upgrades to get back up to speed.3
Smaller imaging practices are finding it tougher to compete for referrals from independent physicians. In 2011, Deborah MacFarlane, West Coast service manager for Management Services Network in Laguna Niguel, California, attributed the siphoning of referrals to these factors:
- Specialty providers purchasing their own equipment to keep imaging in-house
- Radiology benefit management companies reducing imaging utilization as a cost-control measure
- Hospitals contracting with private offices for imaging services
- Patients refusing imaging services due to high insurance deductibles or co-pays6
Building your organization’s reputation for providing the best clinical exams possible with the lowest dose, in a patient-centric atmosphere, can help to corral your share of the patient pool.
American writer, Samuel Langhorne Clemens (better known as Mark Twain) is credited with originating the term “flying light.”7 He used it to describe how every aspect of rider and mount contributed to the commitment of the Pony Express to superior service in mail delivery. A subscription service brings a similar fleetness of exchange to delivery of quality care in imaging.
- A New Reality: Correspondence Mail in the Digital Age. Office of Inspector General United States Postal Service. https://www.uspsoig.gov/sites/default/files/document-library-files/2018/RARC-WP-18-004.pdf August 26, 2019.
- Number of email users worldwide from 2017 to 2023 (in millions). Statista. https://www.statista.com/statistics/255080/number-of-e-mail-users-worldwide/ August 26, 2019.
- Interview with Ken Denison, Global Director of Marketing for Digital, MICT. GE Healthcare. August 26, 2019.
- Radiologists are Burning Out. Diagnostic Imaging. https://www.diagnosticimaging.com/practice-management/radiologists-are-burning-out August 26, 2019.
- Making the Financial Case for Technology Upgrades. Radiology Business. https://www.radiologybusiness.com/topics/technology-management/making-financial-case-technology-upgrades August 26, 2019.
- Be Aggressive to Boost Your Imaging Referrals. Diagnostic Imaging. https://www.diagnosticimaging.com/articles/be-aggressive-boost-your-imaging-referrals August 26, 2019.
- Directory of Mark Twain's maxims, quotations, and various opinions. TwainQuotes.com. http://www.twainquotes.com/PonyExpress.html August 26, 2019.