A patient-centric distribution architecture for medical image sharing

Health Inf Sci Syst. 2013 Jan 10;1:3. doi: 10.1186/2047-2501-1-3. eCollection 2013.


Over the past decade, rapid development of imaging technologies has resulted in the introduction of improved imaging devices, such as multi-modality scanners that produce combined positron emission tomography-computed tomography (PET-CT) images. The adoption of picture archiving and communication systems (PACS) in hospitals have dramatically improved the ability to digitally share medical image studies via portable storage, mobile devices and the Internet. This has in turn led to increased productivity, greater flexibility, and improved communication between hospital staff, referring physicians, and outpatients. However, many of these sharing and viewing capabilities are limited to proprietary vendor-specific applications. Furthermore, there are still interoperability and deployment issues which reduce the rate of adoption of such technologies, thus leaving many stakeholders, particularly outpatients and referring physicians, with access to only traditional still images with no ability to view or interpret the data in full. In this paper, we present a distribution architecture for medical image display across numerous devices and media, which uses a preprocessor and an in-built networking framework to improve compatibility and promote greater accessibility of medical data. Our INVOLVE2 system consists of three main software modules: 1) a preprocessor, which collates and converts imaging studies into a compressed and distributable format; 2) a PACS-compatible workflow for self-managing distribution of medical data, e.g. via CD USB, network etc; 3) support for potential mobile and web-based data access. The focus of this study was on cultivating patient-centric care, by allowing outpatient users to comfortably access and interpret their own data. As such, the image viewing software included on our cross-platform CDs was designed with a simple and intuitive user-interface (UI) for use by outpatients and referring physicians. Furthermore, digital image access via mobile devices or web-based access enables users to engage with their data in a convenient and user-friendly way. We evaluated the INVOLVE2 system using a pilot deployment in a hospital environment.

Keywords: Clinical workflow support system; Medical image viewer; Positron emission tomography - computed tomography; Telemedicine; patient-centric healthcare.