Agfa HealthCare ’s ICIS® Paves the Future for Visual Healthcare

Steve Van Dokkumburg

The digital age is facilitating a major transition in healthcare record management where innovation and technology are creating new opportunities to share information and improve patient care. Traditionally, any information provided during a visit has been recorded on a paper chart, and filed away for future reference. But this archaic paper–based system undermines patient care, creating many challenges for patient and physician by limiting their ability to share information and collaborate at the point of care.

The electronic medical record (EMR), a digital based patient medical record, provides physicians with better access and sharing of clinical information in a secure, efficient manner. With the adoption of the EMR, the patient record can now include and view multimedia patient imaging results, which can significantly reduce duplicate tests and assessments and improve patient care.

Spearheading the clinical imaging charge, from its global centre of excellence in the David Johnson Research + Technology Park is Agfa HealthCare, a leading provider of integrated IT solutions and state of the art diagnostic imaging solutions for hospitals and healthcare centers.

Announced to the market in 2013, Agfa HealthCare ’s Imaging Clinical Information System (ICIS ®), enables caregivers to create, collaborate, exchange, and manage a comprehensive medical imaging record through the continuum of care, by linking (and allowing caregivers to view) patient information records across clinical, technical and regional boundaries. Agfa HealthCare ’s traditional foothold has been within the radiology and cardiology arena focused on imaging records such as CTs, X –rays, MRIs, ultrasounds, mammograms, angiograms and echocardiograms. ICIS® has a much grander focus to provide rich services in all imaging departments in the healthcare network. This includes digital images from surgery, ophthalmology and dermatology departments which have traditionally remained as departmental silos preventing clinicians from viewing all patient –related medical images as part of an electronic medical record.

Lenny Reznik, Agfa Healthcare Director of Enterprise Imaging and Information Systems, speaks about ICIS.

“Agfa HealthCare is developing ICIS® to meet this challenge head–on and to advance what we see as a rapidly advancing ‘visual healthcare evolution. ’ By embracing cross–department and enterprise access to medical images, hospitals and health systems have the opportunity to enhance overall patient care, improve procedure and cost efficiencies, and advance meaningful use of the EMR. ” said Michael Green, President Agfa HealthCare Americas Region, in a January press release announcing the latest ICIS® advancements.

“At the end of the day, it is always about providing better and more expedient care to the patient, ” explains Steve Van Dokkumburg, software architect at Agfa HealthCare and one of the designers of the ICIS® system. Van Dokkumburg offers up an illustration to make his point. “Let’s take a situation where someone visits the ER complaining of a sore knee. At the initial intake, the ER physician will do an X–ray to determine if there is a fracture. Then, that patient is referred to a specialist for further investigation. What often happens is that the initial medical image done in the ER is not sent along to the specialist as part of the patient ’s EMR, so the specialist orders another X–ray. This repeated step wastes time for the patient and for the physician. It slows access to treatment. It subjects patients to unnecessary exposure to potentially harmful radiation. And it costs the healthcare system money. Billions of dollars are spent every year in the US on redundant examinations. ”

The Agfa HealthCare ICIS® solution addresses healthcare ’s information sharing challenge on multiple fronts: by streamlining workflows within a department; by improving image sharing between departments; and by facilitating image sharing across healthcare institutions.

“At the departmental level, we are all about streamlining, ” says Van Dokkumburg. “Agfa established its foothold in radiology and cardiology because they are the departments that typically see the most volume in a hospital. Nearly every patient will flow through these departments at some point. The average institution will do 250,000 procedures a year. Large institutions such as Cleveland Clinic will do over 2 million procedures a year. Agfa HealthCare understands the workflows required within radiology to make that department sing. We are able to move a patient through the process faster, get them access to care faster, and get the right information to the right people at the right time – even if that information is from years ago, from another hospital in another city. ”

Today ’s aging population and complex care demands drive a need for improved information sharing across departments, who often are required to collaborate at the point of care. Agfa HealthCare ’s vision for cross departmental and enterprise access to medical images is designed to enhance patient care, improve procedure and cost efficiencies and advance meaningful use of the EMR.

At the broadest level, ICIS ® is now playing a vital role in facilitating information sharing and collaboration between hospitals. Healthcare institutions often specialize in specific areas (pediatrics, maternity, surgery, cardiac care) and today must collaborate more than ever before in patient care. In some regions of the US and Canada conglomerations of hospitals are now emerging to serve a specific geographic region, often running a common system, such as ICIS ® as their backbone.

ICIS ® is rapidly becoming the ‘gold standard ’ for the evolution of visual healthcare. With installations deployed worldwide, into leading healthcare institutions such as Massachusetts General Hospital, Cleveland Clinic, Birmingham Children ’s Hospital, and University of California San Francisco, Agfa HealthCare is advancing collaboration among clinicians, departments and healthcare facilities, enabling our global healthcare system to realize operational efficiencies, cost savings and ultimately better patient care.