Enhancing patient care inspires Southwest Medical Center to upgrade to enterprise imaging

Nov. 20, 2018
Nick Murillo, Vice President Regional Sales, Novarad

Southwest Medical Center (SWMC) serves patients from Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas. Since seeing its first patient in 1964, the not-for-profit hospital has grown and continued to expand its role in many communities as a provider of vital healthcare services.

Among the many challenges being faced by healthcare providers wishing to do the best for their patients, SWMC needed to overcome several concerns ranging from the issue of quick and secure access to a patient’s complete medical record, to avoiding surprise software charges through a controlled TCO, to streamlining image access for physicians, and specialists outside the hospital.

“One of our goals is to consolidate object files from key departments,” Shelley Buttry, IT Director at SWMC, explained.

Assad Zainali, M.D. (front) and Kelly Denton, Director of Imaging at Southwest Medical Center review radiology studies with Novarad’s Ncompass Enterprise Imaging.

According to Kelly Denton, Director of Imaging at SWMC, this consolidation is a key part of an effort to work with the hospital’s physicians and improve patient care.

“We see the growth in our facility, and so we’ve spent almost two years looking at this project and what we wanted to do, because we knew our PACS vendor was going to sunset the product,” said Denton. “We really wanted to make life easier for our physicians.”

These evolving needs prompted Denton and her team to seek out alternate software solutions—specifically an enterprise imaging system. This eventually led them to Novarad’s comprehensive Ncompass Enterprise Imaging solution.

The ideal environment

Denton first learned about enterprise imaging through reading industry materials on the subject. Due to its flexibility, scalability, and high potential for customization, it was a decision that gave them a natural path for expansion.

“Simply because we get a lot of patients from other areas and we send patients to other areas, I thought it was a really good fit for us,” Denton said. “Enterprise imaging is ideal for us because of our referral pattern.

We take a patient’s treatment history into account, and we plan the care we provide with this in mind,” continued Denton. “We want to take what referring hospitals have already done and use it to our advantage so our physicians can easily access that information and provide a good continuum of care for the patient.”

Making the decision

No less important than the features and capabilities of a software, is its cost. Unfortunately, what may seem like a lower cost upfront will later manifest as greater costs over time with software upgrades and capital expenses for hardware that has failed or is end-of-life.

To avoid these painful budget issues, an extensive two-year search was filled with research and visits from multiple vendors. When it came time to present the results of their research to the hospital’s board of directors, Denton took a careful, yet confident approach.

“When we presented to the board, I shared our recommendation, but I revealed the cost of the other companies, too,” Denton said. “The upfront cost wasn’t a huge difference, but when you looked at five years of ownership and 10 years of ownership, there was a big difference. That’s something that the board looks at carefully, and they were appreciative that we took our time and had a complete package when we went there and were strong in our opiniond.”

Because of Novarad’s straightforward pricing model, it was easy for Denton to show the board extended costs of the system. This true TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) approach is unusual in an industry well-known for escalating vendor pricing. For example, the average cost-overrun for EHR implementations is 25%.

The natural next step

In making the move from PACS to enterprise imaging, Denton says the improvements at SWMC are only just beginning. The new imaging system will enable the hospital to achieve many goals, and has already begun bringing not only imaging, but the entire hospital together on one system.

These technological advancements will enable SWMC’s high standard of quality patient care to continue to improve as the hospital grows and flourishes. And, according to Denton, it’s where the industry is headed.

“I think Enterprise Imaging is the future and I think that’s where we’re going in imaging, wound care, and all of the ‘ologies.”