The concept of continuity of care was born in the 1950’s “with an initial focus of having a personal care provider” [1]. Over time, the concept has evolved into a multidimensional model of “coordinated and smooth progression of care – something that we rarely experience in today’s medical system.

One of the least coordinated elements for today’s patients is medical imaging. Within a given hospital network, medical images are often easily accessible. However, when a patient crosses hospital boundaries, particularly within the U. S. where business incentives to exchange images remain spotty at best, the image sharing process breaks down.

While crass, it’s common to hear patient’s referred to “pack mules” in the industry, because they are responsible for the transport of data to their next provider. The hope is that they will not lose or simply forget to bring the data, and that the provider to whom they have been referred has the required equipment to read the CD.

I have personally experienced being a “pack mule” when I brought my imaging CDs to my ENT, a charming old chap by the name of Dr. Peter Mulbry who has since retired. Peter and I spent a good fifteen minutes trying to get the imaging CD to load before we finally gave up and agreed that the best view would be via the endoscope anyway, and that, combined with the imaging report, would have to suffice.

At eHealth Technologies we provide an important function for many of our hospital clients who have chosen to outsource the tedious pain of loading CDs into their systems as part of our records retrieval service. The goal is to avoid my experience by ensuring that the data is present for the provider at the time of the appointment with no surprises.

Over the past month we have loaded 5,492 CDs for our clients using a combination of robotic auto-loaders and dedicated staff. The staff performs a quality review on every CD to make sure it belongs to the correct patient, while updating the medical record number (MRN) to match the patient’s MRN at the destination hospital and performing any corrections needed to ensure the data is loadable every time before pushing it on to the hospital imaging system.

Our growth continues to be impressive, and our imaging team has scaled again and again as our customers continue to place their trust in us to get the right data to the right place at the right time so that the patient can truly experience continuity of care.

http://fampra.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2011/11/01/fampra.cmr104.full

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