The Radiological Society of North America is spearheading an effort to test and validate electronic transfers among imaging systems and exchange platforms.
The technology will be tested against existing standards for locating, sending and receiving digital images produced by X-ray, CT scans and other imaging systems to other providers, exchanges and to patients' personal health-record systems.
The Oak Brook, Ill.-based RSNA made the announcement this week at its annual meeting in Chicago. The so-called Image Share Validation Program is partially funded by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering.
The imaging pilot project will build on digital messaging “integration profiles” developed by Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise, a collaborative effort of the RSNA and the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, a health IT trade group.
Those profiles thus far have enabled the viewing of images between systems and organizations, “but not the actual transport of one image to another” organization, said Joyce Sensmeier, president of Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise USA, the U.S. affiliate of the RSNA and HIMSS collaborative.
Often today, shoe-leather interoperability is achieved when one provider burns a CD of a patient's radiology images and the patient carries the disk to the next provider. Direct interoperability between imaging systems will "replace that CD that patients can take to their doctors and standardizes that process so it will be consistent and secure,” Sensmeier said.
Another partner in the effort is the Sequoia Project, a not-for-profit organization that maintains a federally proposed nationwide health information exchange network. Sequoia collaborated on a series of recommendations released last month on ways to improve matching patients to their medical records.
The Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology at Washington University in St. Louis will also assist in developing and implementing the testing system.
Vendors whose products pass muster will be entitled to use an RSNA Image Share Validation trademark indicating their systems meet program criteria.
Five imaging vendors have volunteered to participate in the pilot, which is expected to take four to six months. The total cost to vendors for certifying products against four interoperability "bundles" is $16,000.
The market will eventually force developers to achieve full interoperability, but RSNA's proposed testing and validation program will likely accelerate that process, said Trace Devanny, president of the healthcare division at Nuance Communications, a developer of speech recognition systems widely used in radiology and a health information exchange platform. "In that case, it's good."