SIIM opens with imaging informatics year-in-review

I got this off CMIO and I feel that a lot of upcoming ‘trends’ are mentioned within so I’m reposting it here

MINNEAPOLIS—The SIIM 2010 annual meeting opened with an overview of breakthroughs and advances in imaging informatics, including a sneak peek at highlights related to the eight learning tracks at the show: integrating IT and images, communication of patient data, 3D and processing of CT and MR, digital radiography, cloud-based storage, security and privacy issues, political aspects of healthcare reform and the role of informatics.

SIIM Chair Bradley Erickson, MD, PhD, co-director of the Medical Imaging Informatics Innovation Center at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., launched the session with the basics, offering a standard definition of imaging informatics.

Imaging informatics collects, extracts and represents image data to yield new information about content in the images or the object being imaged, Erickson explained. “Yet, the field is evolving,” he said, “with SIIM moving beyond RIS and PACS to include the new areas of 3D, CAD [computer-aided detection] and business analytics.”

Partly cloudy with a chance of images
2009 delivered dramatic improvements in storage options, said Keith Dreyer, DO, PhD, vice chair of radiology and informatics at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Cloud computing or internet-based servers for processing, storage and secure transmission of data offers multiple advantages over standard storage. It provides simple, secure and cross-enterprise communication; lower capital and operating costs; immediate upgrades and automatic remote access.

Consequently, cloud storage can help enterprises better reach stakeholders who rely on CDs and DVDs, including physicians outside of the network and patients, Dreyer said.

Getting smart about business intelligence
Proposals to slash Medicare and bundle payments combined with regional and national competition among providers, along with an ever-increasing data deluge and a more proactive FDA have created an atmosphere of hyper anxiety and pressure in the imaging industry.

Yet, J. Raymond Geis, MD, from Advanced Medical Imaging Consultants, insisted that 2010 is the “best of times.” The $27 billion meaningful use carrot should spur increased engagement and renewed focus among providers and vendors, according to Geis.

Near term expectations for providers include implementing CPOE with decision support and developing health information exchanges to collect data to view patterns and drive efficiency. In the next few years, however, the bar will be raised as gross payments could be based on data about the patient, Geis noted, while profits will be based on practice data. Business analytics provides the roadmap that can help healthcare enterprises reach their clinical, operational and financial goals.

Thin clients act fat
For years, thin clients have teased users, providing basic visualization capabilities but falling short on the meat of advanced visualization tools. 2009 ushered in a new era with thin clients offering robust capabilities on limited hardware like laptops. In addition, said Erickson, the new and improved thin clients perform even in low bandwidth environments and on high latency networks.

3D is delivering in other areas, too, continued Erickson. The latest 3D products support more workflow, including support for workflow with other systems, and they feature more reporting capabilities. New functionality minimizes the workflow-busting back and forth between PACS and 3D. Final gains come on the financial front with increasing use of and better support for mainstream hardware and more flexibility in purchasing options.

DR ups the ante
Like the thin-client business, the DR market also transformed in 2009. Portable wireless detectors moved into the mainstream to enable point-of-service image acquisition and processing. Advances on the horizon include flat panels with fluorography capabilities, digital tomosynthesis and CT cone beam acquisition. J. Anthony Seibert, PhD, a professor of radiology at the University of California, Davis, identified a major challenge inherent in the advanced capabilities: Patient radiation dose will rise.

Toward the multimedia report
After nearly a decade of chatter on the topic, imaging continues to inch toward multimedia reporting, said David Weiss, MD, physician coordinator of imaging informatics at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital in Roanoke, Va. Weiss re-defined the supporting infrastructure as communication and information system. New reporting systems go beyond PACS to integrate data from multiple sources including RIS and CAD to generate the report. Continued progress requires multiple resources and cooperation and communication from vendors, he said.

Imaging informatics plays a key role in the radiology business. Smart providers plan to harness informatics to operate leaner, more efficient, more patient-friendly departments and proactively address the series of operational, business, and regulatory challenges that will arise in the next decade.

About Adam Chee

Health Informatician
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