Rush University System for Health

Rush University System for Health is adopting a
cloud-based enterprise imaging strategy to enable
better lives for physicians, staff and patients

The challenge

Rush University System for Health is no stranger to innovation. The renowned health system with more than 30 locations throughout the Chicago area has been consistently recognised by US News & World Report as one of the top care providers in the nation. A 2019 Vizient study also ranked Rush as the number one healthcare provider in the United States when it comes to quality of care. Dr. Shafiq Rab, senior vice president and chief information officer at Rush University System for Health believes the provider’s commitment to technology adoption is instrumental in achieving these accolades. Rush has been a pioneer in regards to electronic medical record (EMR) adoption and telehealth, and the provider’s latest technology initiative is geared toward further improving the lives of administrative staff, physicians and patients.

“To truly empower your staff and physicians, you need to give them quick and easy access to the right information at the right time and in the right format,” says Rab. Rush’s EMR delivered part of this equation, but the provider needed to enhance the accessibility of patient medical images throughout the enterprise to bring it full circle.

Historically, not all medical images of the patient were readily accessible to physicians in context of the EMR. Physicians had to navigate different imaging systems (e.g. radiology/cardiology PACS, pathology, etc.) in order to access and view different images of the patient. Additionally, because medical images were often siloed in these specialty systems, they weren’t easily shared with clinicians at different Rush facilities. Patients often needed to have their images burned to a CD or DVD in order to transport images from a specialist at one Rush facility to another specialist or primary care provider (PCP) located elsewhere in the network.

The solution

To address these issues and provide a foundation for future artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) initiatives, Rush has opted to implement an enterprise imaging strategy that is based 100 per cent in the cloud. Hyland Healthcare’s Acuo VNA and cloud hosting services are central to this effort.

We’re not just adding a bunch of images to the cloud. We’re adding analytics to it. We’re adding intelligence to it. Most importantly, we’re adding actionable insight to it. 

Dr. Shafiq Rab, senior vice president and chief information officer at Rush University System for Health

Rush’s enterprise imaging strategy consolidates images from all the “ologies” and makes them easily viewable and accessible via the EMR alongside other important patient information such as vitals, patient history, labs and more. “Providing all this information in one place creates a composite picture of the patient and makes it easier for physicians to understand the patient, their condition and how best to treat it,” says Rab.  

Similar enterprise imaging environments have been established by other providers using an on-premises approach. However, Rush believes moving this environment to the cloud offers a wealth of additional benefits.

One of the biggest benefits of the cloud is compute power. “We’re not just adding a bunch of images to the cloud,” says Dr. Rab. “We’re adding analytics to it. We’re adding intelligence to it. Most importantly, we’re adding actionable insight to it. We want to provide a foundation for full image rendering to support things like AI and ML. Delivering this type of compute power with 256-bit encryption is not in our data centre. It’s only available in the cloud.”

According to Dr. Rab, enterprise imaging in the cloud will allow Rush to interpret medical images in ways that were previously impossible. For example, in most instances, 3D radiographic images of the patient are reverted back to 2D when they are stored in an on-premises data centre. With a cloud-based strategy, Rush will store the complete 3D images. These higher-resolution studies provide more detail and may allow clinicians to identify bone, tissue and cell changes that are indicative of certain types of diseases much sooner than before. This type of insight has the power to truly transform the lives of patients by not only detecting illness sooner, but treating it sooner or, in some cases, even preventing disease all together.

The advantages of enterprise imaging:

  • Complete view of the patient
  • Images in context of the patient record
  • More informed clinical decisions
  • Improved clinical workflows
  • Streamlined image sharing

The power of the cloud:

  • Compute power
  • Scalability
  • Disaster recovery
  • Fast deployment/upgrades