Prairie Ridge Hospital and Health Services Upgrades to On-Demand PACS and Cuts Costs 50%

Rural facility automates workflows and dramatically reduces radiology report turnaround times

MINNEAPOLIS—August 11, 2010—7 Medical Systems™, LLC, a leader in on-demand picture archiving and communication system (PACS), teleradiology, and electronic medical record (EMR/EHR) solutions for healthcare, today announced that Prairie Ridge Hospital and Health Services has adopted 7 Medical’s on-demand PACS service, cutting costs by 50% and dramatically reducing radiology report turnaround times with automated workflows that improve patient care.

“Prairie Ridge is smart to take advantage of the on-demand model for cost reduction and workflow efficiency gains,” said Jason Studsrud, chief executive officer of 7 Medical Systems. “The PACS market and the digital imaging needs of healthcare facilities are evolving, and we’re seeing increased demand for PACS upgrades to accommodate larger storage volumes. Like Prairie Ridge, those who adopt an on-demand model will find it much easier to scale their systems to meet future storage needs without incurring additional costs for hardware, as well as integrating and adding on additional services such as advanced visualization.”

Prairie Ridge, formerly Eleah Medical Center, specializes in inpatient and outpatient hospices, ambulance services, imaging, and patient support group services. The critical access hospital is a 20-bed general medical and surgical hospital serving more than 1,275 residents of Elbow Lake and a population of 6,000 in Grant County, including the cities of Ashby, Barrett, Erdahl, Herman, Hoffman, Morris, Norcross, and Wendell. The facility employs more than 100 people in the community.

THE CHALLENGE

As a part of its digital strategy, Prairie Ridge’s radiology department was looking to adopt a picture archiving and communication system (PACS) in hopes of achieving the following goals:

  • Cost-effective system with no capital investments or annual maintenance
  • Predictable monthly service fees that do not change over time
  • Turnkey solution, including implementation and training
  • Built-in technology updates, upgrades, and backup and disaster recovery
  • More efficient, automated workflows with electronic routing of images
  • Elimination of courier fees and faster report turnaround times
  • Easy to use system, Web viewer and imaging tools
  • Reliable PACS service and 24/7 support for main clinic and satellite location

“We wanted to go digital, but financing was slowing us down. 7 Medical helped us compare our film costs to its full-service PACS. Film, chemicals and courier fees really add up. With 7 Medical’s low monthly pricing, we were able to reduce our expenses, so the choice was easy,” said Judy Kruize, ancillary service director at Prairie Ridge.

ON-DEMAND MODEL BRINGS PACS WITHIN REACH

7 Medical’s on-demand PACS service immediately cuts costs over film. The on-demand, or software as a service (SaaS), delivery model makes PACS affordable by removing financial and implementation barriers to entry for small and medium facilities, particularly those in rural, underserved areas.

Similar to cell phone, cable TV or Internet services, the PACS system is available as a service for a monthly fee. Facilities pay for only what they use on a price-per-study basis. Hospitals and clinics avoid hefty upfront capital expenditures for servers and software—not to mention annual maintenance, which is typically 20 percent of the capital purchase price.

With 7 Medical, Prairie Ridge was able to sign up for a PACS service at a low, fixed cost per month that is predictable and that doesn’t change over time. The turnkey PACS includes 24/7 service and support; project managers for implementation and training; all technology upgrades, updates and maintenance; and off-site backup and disaster recovery provided by 7 Medical’s best-in-class Type II SAS 70 certified data center with built-in HIPAA privacy and security protection.

THE SOLUTION: Automated Workflows

Before 7 Medical’s on-demand PACS, Prairie Ridge’s images were developed on film. After being processed and labeled, current films and priors were couriered daily to Lake Region Radiology Group for interpretation. Reports were faxed back to referring physicians the following day, and the original hard-copy reports were delivered a few days later.

Prairie Ridge added a computed radiography (CR, or digital X-ray) unit that dramatically cut X-ray exam times from seven minutes to three. To complete its digital strategy, Prairie Ridge implemented 7 Medical’s on-demand PACS service alongside its digital modalities. Now digital images from all but one modality are sent directly to an onsite PACS gateway server, the 7i Gateway™. The PACS server electronically routes studies to the radiology group for interpretation, eliminating film, chemicals, courier and related costs. More important, turnaround times on radiology reports were cut down to hours versus days.

“Stat reports are back within 30 minutes, and regular reports within three to four hours,” said Michele Wiskow, X-ray supervisor at Prairie Ridge. “Patients don’t have to wait as long and our workflow is more automated. We’ve never seen that kind of turnaround, which means we can diagnose and prescribe care to patients that much faster. Plus, 7 Medical provided us with a scanning solution, so we are able to scan radiology reports and store them with the images in the PACS.”

Physicians especially like the ability to show patients their images a few minutes after exams are taken. The easy-to-use 2D/3D Web viewer gives physicians access to view images and use simple tools to take preliminary measurements, alter contrast, zoom and more. The patient experience is improved because diagnosis and a care plan can be prescribed in a timely manner. In addition, reports and images can be read side by side in the Web viewer anytime, anywhere—from the hospital, home office, hotel or any location with Internet access.

7 Medical also delivered a CD/DVD importing and burning solution. Prior images that come in on CD can be easily opened, viewed and imported into the PACS, as well as sent with the current study to the radiologist. Images can also be conveniently burned to CD/DVD so patients can take images with them to referring physicians. A built-in viewer on the CDs/DVDs ensures that referring physicians are able to view the images on the receiving end.

Before implementing the PACS, Prairie Ridge wanted to account for proper training and change management. “Our core focus is on the patient, providing quality care and patient satisfaction, so it was key that 7 Medical provided a turnkey service with project managers to walk us through implementation and training,” said Kruize.

In addition to training Prairie Ridge physicians and staff, 7 Medical provided “train-the-trainer” sessions with a dedicated super-user at the facility. “Now, as new users come on, we are able to get them up and running on our own. As a backup, we can always escalate to 7 Medical support 24/7,” said Kruize.

“The other added benefit that tipped the scale for us was the built-in backup and disaster recovery,” said Kruize. “Knowing that a copy of all of our images is backed up and stored off site in 7 Medical’s data center gives us peace of mind. It’s good to know that we can quickly restore and retrieve images if something were to happen.”

THE OUTCOME

7 Medical’s on-demand PACS was originally installed and integrated to the CR unit in November 2008. Onsite CT and mobile MRI were added in April 2009. Prairie Ridge’s PACS now supports two onsite modalities (CR and CT) and four mobile modalities (MRI, nuclear medicine, mammography and ultrasound). In July 2009, Prairie Ridge also added a CR at Prairie Medical Associates, an affiliate located in Morris, Minnesota. Physicians and staff from both sites are able to tap into the same PACS system to view and manage patient images and reports. Users are able to log in from any location via the Web.

The PACS currently handles volumes of 350 studies per month. Images are automatically routed from the modality to the reading radiologist and to 7 Medical’s data center for long-term storage. Automated workflows have reduced turnaround times from days to hours, even 30 minutes for stat reads.

“7 Medical’s on-demand service made PACS affordable for us,” said Kruize. “The PACS runs without requiring much on our part, but it’s good to know we can call 7 Medical anytime. It’s nice to be able to reach people with the expertise you need, when you need it.”

The PACS service is highly scalable, with technology upgrades, updates and maintenance included—which means Prairie Ridge never has to worry about whether there is enough storage space to accommodate growth in imaging volumes or the addition of new modalities. 7 Medical’s service runs from a Type II SAS 70 certified data center which also fully complies with HIPAA privacy and security regulations.

ABOUT 7 MEDICAL SYSTEMS, LLC

7 Medical Systems™, LLC (www.7medical.com) is a leading provider of on-demand PACS, teleradiology, EMR, disaster recovery and computing solutions for healthcare. The Minneapolis-based company delivers reliable, affordable solutions to critical access hospitals, imaging centers, radiology groups and ambulatory clinics. Rather than investing capital to own and manage hardware and software in-house, healthcare facilities outsource these critical functions to 7 Medical. They trade in hefty capital expenses for more affordable monthly usage fees—paying only for what they use. 7 Medical’s clinical project managers enable facilities to efficiently automate workflows and integrate disparate systems to ensure successful integration, implementation and training. On-demand services are available anytime, anywhere, with 24/7 service and support and built-in disaster recovery, from a Type II SAS 70 certified data center and HIPAA compliance.

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7 Medical Systems™, 7i Gateway™ and the 7 Medical Systems logo are trademarks of 7 Medical Systems, LLC. All other trademarks or trade names are the properties of their respective holders.

Media Contact

Loan D. Gordon
7 Medical Systems, LLC
612.230.7720
lgordon@7medical.com