I’ve just returned from the 2009 Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) which ran from November 29th through December 4th in Chicago. This was my 33rd consecutive RSNA, and each year proves to be more interesting than the next!
I thought I would summarize some of the interesting trends that I observed at this year’s meeting. Given an environment of anticipated healthcare reform, imaging vendors seem to be identifying some interesting areas to address to position themselves for the impending change.
The cost and complexity of sharing images seems to finally be getting some vendor’s attention. Several vendors have identified an opportunity for improvement in the way that studies are exchanged between facilities. Instead of producing physical media (CD’s) and relying on either mail services or the patient to transport them, several vendors are developing applications that use the internet to communicate cases. See My Radiology (http://seemyradiology.com ), OneMedNet (http://onemednet.com ), and eMix (http://emix.com )all demonstrated applications which enable a user to easily upload a patient study from either the imaging device or a PACS, using a downloadable web agent. The user can then utilize various mechanisms on the internet to enable a download of the study to another location. Most use some means of authentication and encryption to ensure a secure transfer. The premise for these applications is that in large centers that receive a lot of outside referrals, the process will save time and resources over the current practice of accessing the CD’s for viewing or download into an existing PACS.
If consumer applications are any indication, these companies are onto something! Consider the fate of BlockBuster Video, and the impact of NetFlicks and others in terms of streaming video. If the internet can be used to lower the cost and improve the access to multi-media, it might certainly do the same for image communication!
Enterprise PACS Exchange
Another sharing trend appears to be bridging the way several facilities in a community might exchange information on a single patient by means of a common patient identification and/or repository. Several companies have been providing such a service for a while, most notably, Compressus (http://compressus.com ), which offers a vendor-neutral means of sharing information between collaborating providers. Now, it appears several large vendors have decided to offer similar services. Most notable amongst such vendors are Carestream’s SuperPACS (http://www.carestreamhealth.com/superpacs.html?gclid=CMyO0IaXwJ4CFchn5Qodf3o1pg ), and GE Healthcare’s Centricity OneView (https://www2.gehealthcare.com/portal/site/usen/ProductDetail?vgnextoid=e6d03954da950210VgnVCM10000024dd1403RCRD&productid=d6d03954da950210VgnVCM10000024dd1403____ ). Both are aimed as bridging the gap between disparate imaging systems or PACS and provide access to all patient data regardless of the originating source.
Such developments are important given the prospect of healthcare reform, in that they may be appealing to providers on a regional basis that may have already organized a Health Information Exchange (HIE) for results. Such capabilities enhance the ability of collaborating facilities to share patient imaging studies, with the potential to reduce the number of retake exams, and to speed up patient care. For example, for a patient presenting in the ER, it may be clinically relevant to access prior imaging studies that may have been done at a number of different facilities. Having the ability to see all the exams done for that patient could provide valuable additional information that might not otherwise be available to the clinician.