Realizing that vendors alone will be challenged to solve this problem, the National Institutes of Health recently renewed funding for RSNA Image Share, a project headed by the Radiological Society of North America. Mount Sinai's Mendelson is the principal investigator.
Initially aimed at sharing of radiology images, RSNA Image Share builds on the IHE XDS-I profile, a solution for publishing, finding, and retrieving imaging documents across a group of affiliated enterprises. The preliminary focus is for patients to control the routing and exchange of their imaging exams through image-enabled personal health records. In its first pilot stage, the project already empowers more than 2,000 enrolled patients to direct how such images will be shared. "That cuts out an entire layer of security and confidentiality concerns, because in a health information exchange, the patient has to be consented and give permission," Mendelson says. "There's a whole layer of bureaucracy around that, and there's good and bad in that, but this other methodology would let patients build their own imaging records in a personal health record that's been image-enabled. The patient then directly controls image distribution."
Looking even further ahead, there may come a day when providers and patients can browse relevant images on a tablet in a manner vastly easier than today's medical record. MD Anderson's ViSion project sports a user interface inspired by the Operation silly skill game, where images are laid on the outline of the human body, and physicians and patients can flip back and forth through images to see a timeline of disease and treatment.
"We are now actually integrating treatment icons, so that we can show when certain treatments like surgery or radiation therapy have been effective and might have affected the course of disease in terms of the images," said MD Anderson's Vining at the Datapalooza event.
Best of all, the images are brought into ViSion by that lowliest of PC-based imaging technology: the screen capture, "whether it's a PACS system or a 3-D imaging workstation, and we extract the image off of this screen capture and upload it to a cloud server," Vining said. "As I talk about this image with my microphone, I capture this image and my voice, I upload it, and from that voice we extract metadata to tag that image, but because we use screen captures, we integrate with no one vendor but we interface with all of them."
This article appears in the January/February 2013 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.