It’s well established that the Digital Imaging and Communication in Medicine (DICOM) standard is the preferred method for handling, storing, printing and sharing medical imaging. It’s also becoming more established that when a DICOM exchange is mixed with vendor neutral archiving systems (VNA), the coupling proves extremely valuable.
Some would argue that the DICOM exchange requires some upgrades for linking radiology processes and picture archiving and communication systems (PACS). For instance, a common scenario that plays out today is a situation where a patient requests that their medical imaging be transmitted to their primary care provider. Instead, the patient is informed that they must go to their radiologist and request that a CD be burned. Sometimes the CDs have no information on them due to a malfunction in the burning process. Other times, the CD won’t pull up any information because the user isn’t using the right system.
In a more ideal situation, basic content of medical imaging would be vendor neutral, meaning it would not have restrictions on how the images would be shared. Any viewer, from Siemens to Philips to Kodak, would be appropriate to view the medical imaging. Furthermore, the method of sharing medical imaging through CD should be wiped out. It’s expensive, risky, inefficient and storing the CDs takes up way too much space that could be used for more important things.
What is really needed in a typical DICOIM exchange is an open ecosystem where images can be shared across organizations without hindrance. Most DICOM processes are intended for information shred within the organization, which means facilities that use direct implementation guide formats such as XDR or SMTP/SMIME are not compatible. Consider that some vendors have created an image-sharing network of their own, which is a sure sign that there are improvements that should be made.
Something that is really getting in the way of progress are antiquated PACS. It can be argued that organizations that want to share images don’t even need them. What would be a better option is a vendor neutral DICOM in the EHR. This will allow images to be sent directly into patient records, which can then be accessed quickly and easily.
What we know now is that DICOM exchange of radiological imaging across any vendor platform is a must. Unfortunately, there are only a few health image exchange providers capable of offering this technology. The advantage of an HIE with the right technology in place allows for not only sharing, but storing data in the cloud as well. Furthermore, any radiology service provider can upload data into the exchange.
At OffSite Image Management, we’ve built a custom HIE portal that allows clients to query, view, import and download selected patient data. This process has allowed clients to realize cost savings while decreasing patients’ exposure to radiation. Using the Honeycomb technology, we’re able to provide the storing and sharing services you’ve dreamed of having but thought you could never afford. Our solution is affordable yet extremely valuable.