Raleigh Radiology Offers Referrers Mobile Access to PACS

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 - Satish Mathan
Satish Mathan, MD

A mobile device offers a portal into everything from your bank account to the latest episode of your favorite television series, so why not give referring physicians mobile access to PACS? This question occurred to Raleigh Radiology in 2012, and when a mobile application became available for the practice’s Synapse® PACS, the tech-forward practice put the wheels in motion.

“Two years ago, with the explosion of an app-driven experience for all technology users, it seemed like a good way for us to differentiate our imaging services from our competitors,” Dr. Satish Mathan, president of the 25-radiologist practice based in Raleigh, NC, explains. “It’s all about ease of use: Everyone has their phone or iPad with them at all times. As someone who not only interprets images but uses images to make decisions on how I treat patients, I could recognize the value in it.”

An informal survey of heavy PACS users confirmed interest and the practice prepared to implement the capability and then roll out the application, first to super users, and then to all interested referrers. The resulting marketing campaign earned the practice the People’s Choice Gold Quest Award at the RBMA Marketing Conference last month.

Orchestrating the Roll Out

Diane Jones

Dianne Jones, marketing manager, co-heads a seven-person marketing department that was responsible for introducing referrers to the application. “Knowing that technology was going in the direction that it was, and that everyone was developing apps, we knew we had to roll this out as quickly as we could,” Jones says.  

In the latter part of 2012, the practice pinpointed referrers expected to be big users—orthopedics, neurology, urology—and targeted them as early adopters of the application. Six practice liaisons in the marketing department were trained to use the application and asked to download it onto their phones to familiarize themselves with the software. 

“A lot of physicians want to hand you their iPhones and iPads and have you download it for them,” Jones notes. The practice sent the liaisons into the field with a marketing flyer that reinforced the need for 24/7 access to images and included free-download instructions from the Apple Store.

“It’s extremely easy,” Jones says. “As long as they have credentials, they can get access.” Like activating an email on a mobile phone, the server name and URL address is all that is required.

Raleigh Radiology pulled out all the stops for a big push to all referrers this past fall, coinciding with the roll out of its redesigned, mobile-friendly web site and the release of a version of the Mobility application that could run on any desktop or tablet.

“We wanted it to be an eye-catching marketing piece, yet concise,” she says. A trifold promotion piece was created on heavy stock in the shape of an iPhone 5, again promoting the idea of ubiquitous access to images—“anywhere, anytime”—and including download instructions.  The iPhone trifold is small enough to slip into a shirt pocket.

The Technical Piece

Jonathan Rice

Activating mobile capability in the PACS was almost as simple as is downloading the application from iTunes, reports Jonathan Rice, IT/PACS administrator for Raleigh Radiology. “This is just another puzzle piece that sits in front of our main PAC system performing query/retrieves,” he explains.

Two small servers were added, each running 15 client licenses, with a concentrator that performs load balancing. “If one server is out of licenses, it forwards to the other server,” he adds.

Mobility utilizes hyper text transfer protocol secure (HTTPS) to move encrypted data over the Internet and provide remote access to FUJIFILM Synapse via iPhone and Android smartphones, as well as Macintosh® or Window’s®-based PCs and tablets of all kinds.

Because the application is browser independent, any headaches associated with the diverse computer environment in Raleigh’s referrer network—which runs multiple versions of multiple browsers—vanished instantly. 

Award-winning trifold helped launch the Mobility app.

“It’s a Flash-enabled browser in that it uses Adobe® Flash,” Rice explains. “That allows us to leave a zero-footprint on the client’s workstation or device and multiple browsers able to use the app.”

Credentials are managed by Rice in-house using Microsoft® Active Directory. “Users are added to a group, and that group is given access to the Mobility product,” he says. Access is restricted to the physician’s patient images via a viewing toolkit