Compression algorithms are widely used in medical imaging systems for efficient image storage, transmission, and display. In the acceptance of lossy compression algorithms in the clinical environment, important factors are the assessment of 'visually lossless' compression thresholds, as well as the development of assessment methods requiring fewer data and time than observer performance based studies. In this study a set of quantitative measurements related to medical image quality parameters is proposed for compression assessment. Measurements were carried out using region of interest (ROI) operations on computer-generated test images, with characteristics similar to radiographic images. As a paradigm, the assessment of the lossy Joint Photographic Expert Group (JPEG) algorithm, available in a telematics application for healthcare, is presented. A compression ratio of 15 was found as the visually lossless threshold for the JPEG lossy algorithm, in agreement with previous observer performance studies. Up to this ratio low contrast discrimination is not affected, image noise level is decreased, high contrast line-pair amplitude is decreased by less than 3%, and input/output gray level differences are minor (less than 1%). This type of assessment provides information regarding the type of loss, offering cost and time benefits, in parallel with the advantages of test image adaptation to the requirements of a certain imaging modality and clinical study.