How to Get Around DICOM Issues

DICOMIf you’re unable to share medical imaging unfettered today, you’re not meeting the expectations of your patients. In fact, the ability to quickly and efficiently share medical images across departments and across facilities is one of the key components of responsible healthcare. The DICOM format is the standard for medical images, but does it create challenges for the speed at which providers want to access images?

There is a lot of talk about clinical speeds today. And because medical images can be very large files, the rate at which these can be accessed and shared is sometimes compromised. All modalities within radiology and medical images have gone digital, which necessitated a standard, of which DICOM was chosen. There is a DICOM standard, which means medical images must be .dcm, or DICOM format files. This file consists of a header and data related to the image. Radiologists also see JPEG, TIFF, GIF and PNG files associated with their medical imaging, and these are file formats that are recognizable by just about anybody who has sent or received a photograph over the Internet.

Windows doesn’t recognize DICOM files, which means that providers wishing to see the images must also have a DICOM browser, allowing for the interpretation of the file information. However, it’s not just DICOM files that are causing issues – it’s often the PACS from one department to the next or one facility to another that can get in the way of accessing images.

To address the issue of accessibility, providers are looking to vendor neutral archiving, or VNA, to handle archiving and sharing tasks. For instance, radiology groups implement VNA archiving so they can read images coming in from several providers throughout several states. Instead of modifying data to make it interoperable, providers are utilizing VNA to take the hassle out of decoding DICOM images.

VNA is also helping providers in remote areas gain better access to the same perks that providers in the big cities have had for years. For instance, rural clinics and hospitals are almost always limited on what they can spend on technology. They are also limited due to the number of qualified IT professionals in the area, which means if they could afford a large and complex imaging system, there wouldn’t be anybody there to manage it.

To get around issues related to DICOM and HL7, for that matter, more providers are looking to the cloud for solutions. With cloud-based technology, there is no need for extensive depth in the IT department, no capital-based expenditures, and no reliance on CD burning technology to share medical imaging. All that’s needed is access to high speed Internet.

OffSite Image Management, Inc., has created just such a solution that assists the healthcare industry with their data management needs. If access to images has been a stumbling block in the past, contact us today and find out how our solutions will improve your operation.