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US project enables instant access to medical scans

United States America,Health/Medicine,Science/Tech, Mon, 30 Apr 2012 IANS

Washington, April 30 (IANS) Patients can now instantly download their medical scans and images from an internet-based "cloud" system and distribute these to their physicians for diagnosis wherever they might be located.


This has been made possible by an image share project that has been introduced by five US-based academic institutions - the University of California (San Francisco), the University of Chicago, the University of Maryland, the Mayo Clinic in Rochester and the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York.


"The patient can arrange with their radiologists' office to have their images and the radiology reports exported into an internet-based personal health record (PHR)," said David Mendelson, principal investigator of the image share project.


Patients like this because they "own" the radiological exam. Physicians like this because they have anytime, anywhere access to images and reports, said Mendelson, according to a California statement.


Once the information is in the PHR, the patient has full control over distribution of the images and reports. Images can be viewed immediately online by signing into one's PHR. Besides, e-mail links can be sent to physicians allowing them to view and download the images and reports as needed, said Mendelson.


A real benefit to everyone is that quick and easy access to the images and reports could "encourage appropriate utilization of imaging services and diminish the unnecessary radiation exposure secondary to the duplication of recent examinations because those previous examinations are not easily available to providers," Mendelson said.


Security and confidentiality are high priorities and the image share project has instituted safeguards to ensure both, said Mendelson. One of the biggest challenges that the project has had to overcome is ensuring that local HIPAA issues are addressed, he said.


This is the first phase of the project. In phase two, patients will be allowed to share their images without the images first being uploaded to the PHR. This is particularly useful in the event of a severe trauma. In phase three, the data will be de-identified and then made available for clinical trials, Mendelson said.


These findings were presented Monday at the American Roentgen Ray Society Annual Meeting in Vancouver, Canada.


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