Mercy Children’s Hospital Transforms Pediatric Cardiology Workflow With CVIS

Cardiologists report boosts to efficiency, accuracy, patient throughput and report turnaround time


October 7, 2011
Gary J. Butchko, M.D., FAAP, a pediatric cardiologist at Mercy Children’s Hospital, (sitting) and William Suarez, M.D., chief of pediatric cardiology, in cath lab.

Digging through boxes, waiting for couriers, finding smashed VHS tapes in the mail, jockeying back and forth between multiple modalities. Like at other hospitals across the country, the manual, tape- and film-based workflow in the pediatric cardiology department at Mercy Children’s Hospital in Toledo, Ohio, had stagnated. The workflow had quadrupled in the time it took the cardiologists to read echocardiograms for the hospital and four outreach centers, resulting in a report turnaround time that could be as long as five to seven days.

Since implementing a fully digital solution – Horizon Cardiology  from McKesson, a single-platform cardiovascular imaging and information system (CVIS) – cardiologists can access all inpatient and outpatient echocardiograms and cardiac catheterizations from one workstation and even do side-by-side comparisons and re-measuring on the same screen. Today, the vast majority of signed reports are typically distributed to the enterprise and the referring pediatrician within 24 hours of the cardiologist seeing the patient, and for emergency cases can be distributed in under an hour.

Build it and They will Come

“We moved from a horrible manual process where tapes were put back on the machine to measure or compare with a previous study,” explains William Suarez, M.D., chief of pediatric cardiology and associate professor at Mercy Children’s Hospital. “With Horizon Cardiology, we have no reason to have tape anymore, and I can instantly see everything I need from one reading station. As soon as I sign the report, it’s instantaneously in the electronic patient record.”

 Suarez and the team of cardiologists use the system’s comparison features to see the trending of measurements over time, especially crucial in pediatric patients as they get older.

Mercy Children’s Hospital cardiologists also use the CVIS to perform offline measurements after the images have been sent from the echo cart. “In the past, we would have to look up the old tape, print the image and still not know the proper scale,” says Gary J. Butchko, M.D., FAAP, a pediatric cardiologist at Mercy Children’s Hospital. “The CVIS is extremely accurate for re-measuring, and the image quality is 10-fold better. Remote access allows me to increase my professional and personal proficiency,” Butchko states. “Let’s say I have a lot of echos from the outpatient clinics to read tonight. By logging in from home, I can still finish within the parameters set by the hospital and meet my family obligations. That’s phenomenal.”

Better, Faster, Safer Care
Since moving to the McKesson CVIS , Mercy Children’s Hospital has overhauled its report generation process. “The CVIS has helped us improve our overall efficiency,” Butchko said. “If we do an echo and determine a baby needs surgery right away, we can get the echo reported, signed, documented and sent to the surgical team within a few hours, and the surgeon can pull up the echo to use as a guide during the surgery.”

Another significant impact, Suarez adds, is the ability to catch a potential mistake. “When we are reading a referral, we can prevent a physician from letting a patient go that needs to be looked at further. The CVIS gives us the ability to prevent morbidity because we can provide accurate, efficient and prompt diagnosis.”

This case study was supplied by McKesson.

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  • Discussing an echo in the cath lab.