WCC: Optimal processes through innovative systems and IT
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the Western industrial nations. For many patients throughout the world, it leads to a very limited quality of life. Aside from these negatives, diagnosis and therapy for cardiovascular disease is also very expensive: 181 billion Euros have been spent alone in the European Union (estimate for 2005). And the expenses are steadily increasing. This rise in cost can be successfully counteracted by providing greater efficiency for the treatment process and by simultaneously increasing the quality of care. The Siemens exhibit at the World Congress for Cardiology in Barcelona shows, how innovative systems and performance-oriented information technology ensure a high-value, patient-oriented and equally efficient diagnosis and treatment course for cardiovascular disease.
Detecting and treating cardiovascular disease is often a matter of minutes. Delays may lead – for example, in the case of a cardiac infarct – to a damaged heart muscle or the death of the patient. “Efficient processes adjusted optimally to one another –from patient admission to patient discharge – may well save the patient’s life,” explains Prof. Dr. Erich R. Reinhardt, member of the Managing Board of Siemens AG and CEO and president of Siemens Medical Solutions. Only when a comprehensive overall picture of the patient is available as quickly as possible, the treating physician will be able to reach an accurate decision in an emergency situation. But there is also an enormous potential present in cardiological routine diagnostics. Through optimized workflows the time from the patient’s admission up to his discharge can be reduced considerably accompanied by cost-saving effects. The concomitant increase in the quality of care provides for more satisfied patients, physicians, and medical personnel.
Cardiology as a challenge for information technology
IT in particular plays an important role in improving clinical processes. As it were, only powerful software architectures can display, automate, and optimize highly complex processes. Cardiology presents a special challenge, since a great many and frequently time-critical patient data are generated during the examination and subsequent therapy. These may include extensive clinical images, blood values or data regarding interventions or methods used. This information, frequently generated at different locations throughout the hospital, is to be acquired more efficiently with the help of information technology, processed in a useful way, and be accessible as quickly as possible by all personnel participating in the treatment process. The integrated IT solutions syngo and Soarian by Siemens handle these tasks impressively, enabling the company to largely improve the cardiology workflow - and all the more when these two systems are implemented as a combined IT solution package. At the same time, the modular structure of syngo as well as Soarian allows their individual adjustment to the clinical scenario. Numerous cardiologists are already benefiting today from Siemens know-how and the company’s solutions.
syngo: acquiring, processing, reporting and distributing images
The requirements of cardiology are especially high with respect to imaging diagnostics, a central element of the clinical workflow. Because: the process that begins with scheduling an appointment and moves to image acquisition, post-processing and reporting up to storage and distribution of clinical results is a highly complex one. And add to that the immense data volume generated with a CT scan of the beating heart that may involve hundreds of images. This presents enormous challenges to the system architecture, but even more so to the physician. From the multitude of different data, he has to filter out and evaluate the correct information. Only then is he ready to make a safe diagnosis - the prerequisite for effective therapy.
For the most optimal configuration of this workflow, Siemens developed syngo Dynamics, a dynamic image viewing and archiving system for several modalities in cardiology. syngo Dynamics is a scalable component of the syngo Suite, the integrated RIS/PACS and post-processing solution from Siemens. It can be tailor-made to meet the individual requirements of the customer. The system provides for immediate access to cardiology and echocardiology studies. It allows for the exact quantification of cardiac data from ultrasound as well as the generation of special cardiology, evidence-based reporting. The system also integrates other data, such as hemodynamic values. The architecture of syngo Dynamics allows for the smooth and seamlessly digital distribution of digital patient data after reporting has been completed.
Soarian: an expert handle on clinical and administrative processes
Soarian – as well as the individually scalable Soarian Cardiology module especially tailored to the needs of cardiology just as syngo Dynamics – controls, automates, and optimizes clinical as well as administrative processes. Already during the admission of the patient, the system – if not performed previously for an earlier examination – generates a digital patient record. To improve the workflow, Soarian provides physicians and clinical personnel with integrated work schedules for the fastest possible throughput of examinations and treatments required. In addition, the system can check the medication administered or dangerous interactions between medicaments. This adds greatly to patient safety.
The software also supports the various tasks for documenting and writing reports: treatment steps and diagnoses can be performed in random sequences by several persons and entered into the system at any time. To prepare a report, the system automatically combines information from different sources, that is, it integrates, e.g., data from the hemodynamic system, electrocardiography (ECG) or the lab and pharmacy system. Following treatment, consumables are automatically reported to materials management of the hospital. Invoicing is handled in accord with applicable regulations, for example, DRG (Diagnosis Related Groups). In this way, Soarian provides for greater cost transparency in the hospital.
A combination of medical systems and information technology
These IT architectures and innovative systems from Siemens provide both physicians and the hospital with the full potential to increase the quality of care as well as reduce costs effectively. The world’s first Dual Source Computed Tomograph (DSCT) Somatom Definition provides entirely new imaging possibilities. The system is equipped with two X-ray sources and two detectors, enabling clinical imaging at a speed and accuracy previously unknown. Even hearts with quick or irregular heart beats no longer need beta blockers to reduce the heart rate. Despite its two X-ray tubes, the radiation dose is reduced by up to 50 percent as compared to conventional systems. The DSCT also offers capabilities that were non-existing in diagnostic imaging: the display of tissue and liquor while simultaneously improving the differentiation of vessels, bone, and soft tissue.
Siemens will also show several highlights in the area of molecular imaging, among them the PET/CT system Biograph 64. The system with its new TruePoint PET•CT technology supplies high-resolution CT angiography as well as data for myocard perfusion and vitality in a single examination. Together with innovative IT solutions for image display, as, for example, syngo CardioFusion, these technologies optimize the clinical workflow in cardiology further and improve diagnostic image quality.
Siemens Medical Solutions is one of the world’s largest suppliers to the healthcare industry. The company is known for bringing together innovative medical technologies, healthcare information systems, management consulting, and support services, to help customers achieve tangible, sustainable, clinical and financial outcomes. From imaging systems for diagnosis, to therapy equipment for treatment, to patient monitors to hearing instruments and beyond, Siemens innovations contribute to the health and well-being of people across the globe, while improving operational efficiencies and optimizing workflow in hospitals, clinics, home health agencies, and doctors' offices. Employing approximately 33.000 people worldwide and operating in more than 120 countries, Siemens Medical Solutions reported sales of 7.6 billion EUR, orders of 8.6 billion EUR and group profit of 1 billion EUR for fiscal 2005. Further information can be found under www.siemens.com/medical