A decade after starting Diagnostic Professionals, Inc (DPI), Claude Hanuschak, its COO, still refuses to let federal payment policy thwart his success. When faced with a 35% reimbursement reduction due to implementation of the DRA, the 30-year radiology veteran and president/COO of the four-site Florida imaging-center chain responded with a resolve to become more efficient, largely through a reliance on appropriate technology.
The ability to maintain outstanding overall quality with fewer dollars continues to serve Hanuschak well. In fact, it’s the main reason that his four state-of-the-art facilities (in Fort Lauderdale, Pembroke Pines, Plantation, and Coconut Creek)—co-owned with CEO Howard Dekkers—continue to thrive. “The ability to increase productivity has kept us in business,” he says.
As a relatively early adopter of RIS, PACS, and voice recognition, Hanuschak has always believed that wise investments pay off down the road. When the Synapse® RIS (FUJIFILM Medical Systems USA, Inc) offered a new patient-tracking tool (officially named Pulse) about a year ago, it was another opportunity to improve efficiency and continue DPI’s commitment to patient-centered radiology.
In particular, radiologists at DPI have come to rely on the tracking tool’s digital feed (which comes in the form of a tab that resides in a corner of the screen) to assist them in delivering critical-results notifications. The persistent tab can act as a reminder for radiologists who forget to call a difficult-to-find referring physician.
“If the radiologist forgets to do the call and/or does not even send out the report, the critical finding goes unrelayed. With this patient-tracking tool, radiologists can click a button on the patient’s chart while they are dictating. The information goes into this feed, and it stays in that feed until the task is finalized. They can put the report in, finalize it, and it remains there—reminding them, later, that they need to follow up,” Hanuschak explains.
If a VIP is coming in, a notice can be put into the feed and monitored during the day, as the visit progresses. “From a quality-assurance standpoint, I’m able to follow up with the referring physician’s office to ensure things were done quickly,” Hanuschak says. “You can actually track the patient, right from the scheduling point. The feed shows whatever position that patient is in within our system. If that patient cancelled, I can click on the tab, and it will take me to the comments section of the chart—where I can find out why that patient cancelled.”
As a tool embedded in the Synapse RIS, Pulse uses the concepts of social media to provide real-time information to users about the patients and tasks they find most relevant. Reynold Yordy, Fujifilm’s medical informatics director for Marketing Information Systems, points out that Pulse does not presume to know the individual priorities of each administrator; instead, it opts for a malleable framework.
“Pulse provides the flexibility so that every user can define different criteria of what matters to them and be notified in real time, without ever having to go somewhere else within the application to know there is something of importance,” Yordy explains. “This functionality has also recently been extended to mobile platforms as well.”
At a time when it can be more difficult to get preauthorization for patients’ exams, Hanuschak’s staff uses Pulse for insurance verification and tracking for timely authorization. Once a patient is successfully in the system and a consultation is requested, radiologists can “push it over to their feeds,” Hanuschak says, “and when other radiologists are available, they will be able to bring up the image quickly.”
A Dual Feed
Pulse patient tracker has two tabs. One is a feed that shows desired charts, while the other is a dashboard—on which Hanuschak relies for several facets of administration. “Clicking that tab allows me to see the status of today’s activity,” he says. “It shows reports to be signed, dictated, and transcribed—plus any overdue urgent findings. We do not want our patients waiting more than 15 minutes. If that happens, we can interact quickly and find the reason for the delay.”
Additional flagged items on the dashboard include overdue film jackets, claims to be filed, outstanding stat work, and failed faxes. “All of these elements are key for an administrator,” Hanuschak says. “If the electronic fax has failed, we can drill down to what