By Aine Cryts

There’s a movement among healthcare organizations to engage with patients before they get sick, Morris Panner, CEO at New York-based Ambra Health, tells AXIS Imaging News. That approach has come to be known as population health.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, population health “brings significant health concerns into focus and addresses ways that resources can be allocated to overcome the problems that drive poor health conditions in the population.”

Thus, there’s a good reason for hospitals and healthcare systems to care about their patients’ ability to eat right, exercise, and get the right amount of sleep, Panner tells AXIS. When patients engage in these healthy habits, they can stay out of the hospital where they may otherwise need to be treated for serious conditions, such as diabetic ketoacidosis, which can send them to the emergency room—or even die.

But where does imaging enter the population health conversation? Panner says it can be as simple as viewing imaging as more than just a diagnostic aid where you get a result—such as learning the patient’s leg isn’t broken—and then the problem’s solved and the patient goes home. When the patient’s story is available in the hospital or health system’s electronic health record—and imaging has to be a part of that—physicians and other decision-makers have a more holistic view of their patients and can make smart decisions about wrapping around the right services to keep them healthy.

Access to a cloud-based, enterprise PACS is essential to getting access to the holistic view of the patient, according to Panner. “We need to transform imaging from a static to a very dynamic asset. If you don’t have a system that’s cloud-based, a consolidated system, you’re in a lot of trouble,” he adds.

That requires healthcare providers to transform how they see patients. Instead of viewing them as patients, Panner challenges healthcare decision-makers to view them as consumers seeking a positive outcome.

Deploying the Right Resources

Healthcare is expensive in the United States and about 530,00 bankruptcies are filed each year due to medical debt, reported The Guardian. Some studies have shown that as much as 30% of healthcare spending may be considered waste. But Panner says the person cured by a cutting-edge therapy such as immunotherapy doesn’t complain that the government’s wasting too much money in healthcare.

The challenge for healthcare decision-makers is to make sure they’re deploying the right healthcare resources to keep patients healthy. Panner says enterprise access to imaging is critical to success with population health and value-based care. Radiology images can’t be “locked away in [separate PACS technologies] downstairs. If they are, hospitals won’t be able to compete for patients and they won’t be able to fulfill their mission of providing the best care possible,” he adds.

Aine Cryts is a contributing writer for AXIS Imaging News.