Image Sharing

Where We've Been, Where We're Going

David S. Mendelson, MD, FACR


Appl Radiol. 2011;40(11):6-10. 

In This Article

Abstact and Introduction


As healthcare information systems transition to the next era of image sharing and data exchange—via cloud computing—a group of radiologists have devised an extension to the image platform through personal health records (PHR). The RSNA/NIBIB has since developed and deployed a pilot project that links an edge server, an imaging clearing-house, and the image-enabled PHR controlled by the patient. This resulting cloud-based network provides ease-of-use, high availability, and excellent performance.


There are many good reasons for sharing imaging exams.[1] For radiologists, a previous study is highly valuable for comparison with a more recent study in which an apparently new imaging abnormality is identified. Prior comparison exams also improve the quality of interpretation and expedite clinical care. In addition, given the continuing growth in healthcare expenditures, ready access to a previous comparison study may avert the need for a more expensive or invasive procedure to work up a current finding. For instance, a pulmonary nodule that remains unchanged through 2 or 3 years of comparison studies can be declared stable and nonaggressive, rather than being investigated with CT or biopsy without those studies. Prior studies also help avoid placing additional radiation burden on the individual patient and the population.[2]

Patients are mobile; they often receive healthcare services at multiple sites, and their images need to move with them. They also often see a variety of specialists or seek second opinions from other radiologists. Many patients, in addition, enroll in clinical trials that require them to submit their imaging exams. Indeed, the need for access to patients' diagnostic imaging studies continues to expand and requires an easy and secure mechanism to permit this access.


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