Taking digital imaging to the next level: challenges and opportunities

Radiol Manage. Mar-Apr 2004;26(2):16-20.


New medical imaging technology, such as multi-detector computed tomography (CT) scanners and positron emission tomography (PET) scanners, are creating new possibilities for non-invasive diagnosis that are leading providers to invest heavily in these new technologies. The volume of data produced by such technology is so large that it cannot be "read" using traditional film-based methods, and once in digital form, it creates a massive data integration and archiving challenge. Despite the benefits of digital imaging and archiving, there are several key challenges that healthcare organizations should consider in planning, selecting, and implementing the information technology (IT) infrastructure to support digital imaging. Decisions about storage and image distribution are essentially questions of "where" and "how fast." When planning the digital archiving infrastructure, organizations should think about where they want to store and distribute their images. This is similar to decisions that organizations have to make in regard to physical film storage and distribution, except the portability of images is even greater in a digital environment. The principle of "network effects" seems like a simple concept, yet the effect is not always considered when implementing a technology plan. To fully realize the benefits of digital imaging, the radiology department must integrate the archiving solutions throughout the department and, ultimately, with applications across other departments and enterprises. Medical institutions can derive a number of benefits from implementing digital imaging and archiving solutions like PACS. Hospitals and imaging centers can use the transition from film-based imaging as a foundational opportunity to reduce costs, increase competitive advantage, attract talent, and improve service to patients. The key factors in achieving these goals include attention to the means of data storage, distribution and protection.

MeSH terms

  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Decision Making, Organizational
  • Economic Competition
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / economics
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / trends
  • Information Storage and Retrieval
  • Radiographic Image Enhancement / economics
  • Radiographic Image Enhancement / trends*
  • Radiology Information Systems / economics
  • Radiology Information Systems / trends*
  • Systems Integration
  • Technology, Radiologic / economics
  • Technology, Radiologic / trends*