Improving value and outcomes: McKesson radiology GM shares thoughts on company’s role

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 - Ashish Sant
Ashish Sant, General Manager of Radiology, McKesson

The pressures on providers in an era of evolving payment models and ever-evolving technology could not be more demanding. In order to be successful, providers will need strong solutions from their technology partners.

McKesson is providing just that. McKesson recently released their latest version of McKesson Radiology Mammography Plus™, an embedded breast imaging workflow in the PACS for mammography, and includes support for Digital Breast Tomosynthesis (DBT).

imagingBiz caught up with Ashish Sant, General Manager of Radiology at McKesson, ahead of SIIM 2016 to ask about where the company is going and how it plans to assist radiologists.

McKesson has been around for a while, and is well known in the radiology world. Given all the healthcare changes in recent years, how is McKesson trying to help radiology move forward?

Sant: We have seen a lot of pressure on the industry in the move from volume to value. Helping customers improve outcomes has always been our focus, but being able to prove that the role of the Radiologist is critical in a patient’s outcome has been a relatively recent shift.

The perception is that Radiology is not as involved in direct patient care, but the truth is that without the essential information provided by Radiology, patient care would be impacted. We ensure the Radiologists have the right clinical information beyond just the images to help them make a better, faster diagnosis and improve the care pathway for the patient.

But that’s just one aspect of the Radiology business. The second is the significant cost pressure that Radiology has felt over the last several years, along with the overall pressures on hospitals due to reimbursement cuts and lack of significant imaging growth.

There was a time in the early and mid-2000s when CT was creating a lot of growth in imaging volumes. At that time, volume increase meant revenue increase. That landscape has changed significantly and there’s now a downward pressure on imaging. Reimbursement is going down year over year, and with alternate payment models on the horizon, may no longer be strictly tied to volume. At McKesson, we  help Radiologists and Radiology departments improve their operational efficiency and productivity so they can get more out of the investment they have made and can better utilize their assets.  In this way we are helping Radiology departments strengthen their financial health.

McKesson Radiology is an all-in-one PACS covering multiple modalities, including specialty workflows such as breast imaging. Why was that important to McKesson?

Sant: There are two reasons this was important to us: the first related to clinical outcomes and the second related to cost.

From a cost perspective, we often find customers have previously invested in specialty software and workstations that are separate from their PACS. While this has provided them the functionality they were looking for, it has impacted their productivity. With McKesson Radiology, for example, we offer a comprehensive breast imaging solution natively within our PACS, including support for Digital Breast Tomosynthesis. The software for Mammography is one-and-the-same as our PACS and doesn’t require dedicated additional hardware except for the FDA approved displays for Mammography reading. As DBT is growing in adoption, it doesn’t make sense for a Radiologist to be moving back and forth between workstations to do their interpretations, and it is expensive to maintain the separate software and hardware. With the McKesson solution, our customers can leverage their existing PACS investment. And beyond the cost savings, a unified solution simplifies the IT and administrative work as well.

Looking at the clinical side, a single reading environment for the Radiologists just makes sense. Our goal for radiologists is to help them stay productive in their “reading cockpit” by providing them with tools that can meet their imaging needs within the PACS environment. By embedding specialty workflows within the PACS reading workflow, a Radiologist reading DBT will have access to all the priors for the patient, whether they are mammography images or ultrasound or anything else that is relevant, along with all the pertinent clinical information from ancillary systems. We provide strong EMR integrations on the PACS workstation so that prior clinical data for the patient  is easily available to the Radiologists, whether it is lab results, medications or ER notes. All of this information provides