DICOM Viewers: Integration and Development Issues

Guest post by Tatsiana Levdikova, copywriter, EffectiveSoft.

TatsianaLevdikova
Tatsiana Levdikova

The DICOM format has appeared more than 20 years ago. Since then a number of technological advancements have taken place resulting in better resolution in such files and an increase in volume of data. New technologies made it possible not only to get just an ordinary photo, but an animated image. Such new options had direct impact on a size of data being processed by DICOM Viewers.

In the meantime, many hospitals continue to use DICOM viewers that were created many years ago. These viewers work slower than latest solutions and lack many useful functions. Besides, they cannot master a growing volume of data. But hospital staff are reluctant to stop using outdated solutions, and there are some reasons for such attitude:

Consequently, hospitals have to solve the dilemma; they have latest diagnostic equipment that undergoes regular updates, while their software is too old to work with large volumes of data.

Exploring the Paradox 

Health professionals do not participate in development of software they make use of. Being user expertise bearers since they deal each day with images, make diagnosis and conduct researches, diagnosticians barely have relation to the development of software they use.

To keep up with latest developments in the field of diagnosis, healthcare facilities have to look for opportunities to make improvements in the diagnostic software, and in DICOM viewers, in particular.

DICOM viewers’ development prospects

There are a number of lucrative directions that DICOM viewers’ developers should bear in mind.

Collaboration plays a crucial role in making a diagnosis. Diagnosticians often consult each other if they have some doubts or if there is a need to get access to a medical history of a patient.

DICOM viewers could become a solution by providing its users with remote access to images. Besides, they could become a tool for an online discussion (where participants could use different graphic tools to review images).

Import of images from different sources (e.g. from one hospital with its own requirements to file formats to another) and their displaying according to requirements and standards of each health facility.

A built-in set of instruments can be extended by improving their functions by giving DICOM viewers’ users to ability to utilize an advanced review, create annotations and notes, measure angles, circles, add annotations, etc.

DICOM viewers could automatically compile medical assessment reports on the basis of available annotations, with hyperlinks to particular images and image areas.

DICOM viewers could also be used in workflow managing by forwarding processed images to other experts for additional research.

Three dimensional modelling is one more promising direction for DICOM viewers, and auto adjustment of images by improving their quality by using latest algorithms for dealing with pixel images seems to be a solution in this case.

Difficulties Developers of Healthcare Software and Health Facilities Face

Quality and accuracy of healthcare software’s work must be very high, and there must be no room for mistakes in order to eliminate a possibility of a medical error. This makes testing a very important part of the development process, and it accounts from 40 percent to 60 percent of the total development time.

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What to Expect at HIMSS 2016

Guest post by Drew Ivan, director of business technology, Orion Health.

Drew Ivan
Drew Ivan

With such an enormous cross-section of the healthcare industry in attendance, the HIMSS Conference and Exhibition represents a comprehensive snapshot of the state of the healthcare industry and a perfect trendspotting opportunity. Here’s a preview of what I expect will be this year’s conference highlights.

Care coordination and population health and process improvement, workflow and change management are tied for the most popular category, with 29 educational sessions focused on each.

Representing 22 percent of the total number of sessions, this is clearly a focus area for the year’s conference, and it’s easy to see why. Changes in healthcare payment models are now well underway, and they are impacting payer and provider operations where healthcare is delivered, managed and documented.

Providers and payers alike are seeking information about how best to operationalize business processes and provide high quality care under new payment models, but it may be even more interesting to visit the Exhibition Hall to see what innovations vendors are bringing to the market to meet these needs.

Another topic related to changes in healthcare delivery is clinical informatics and clinician engagement, which is all about how new technologies, such as big data and precision medicine, can impact care decisions. The ability to make data-driven clinical decisions is one of the many dividends of widely adopted electronic health records. This is likely to be an important area for many years to come.

With 100 million medical records hacked last year, privacy and security is a hot topic at this year’s conference. The number of educational sessions in this category nearly doubled from 13 last year to 25 this year.

While preventing unauthorized access to records is the top priority, security will be a simpler problem to solve than privacy. As more sources of clinical data go from paper to electronic systems and more types of users have legitimate access to patient data, the problem of providing appropriate, fine-grained access in accordance with patient preferences, clinical settings and laws that differ across jurisdictions becomes very difficult to untangle.

Privacy and security concerns will need to be addressed with a combination of open standards and vendor products that implement them. Technologies from other industries, like banking, are likely to start making their way into healthcare.

This year, health information exchange (HIE) and interoperability educational sessions are combined into a single category, reflecting the fact that interoperability within a single institution is, at this point, more or less a solved problem. The next frontier is to enable interoperability across institutions to support improved transitions of care.

HIEs have a role to play when it comes to moving data between organizations; however, many HIEs are struggling or disappearing because of sustainability challenges. This year’s conference will provide an opportunity to learn best practices from the most successful HIEs. It will also be interesting to see what strategies HIE vendors will pursue as their customer base consolidates. In the Orion Health booth alone, we will have executives from HIEs talking about these same issues.

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