by Lauren Dubinsky
, Senior Reporter | June 12, 2020
From the May 2020 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
The key objective of enterprise imaging is to break down silos and allow information from imaging exams to be accessible across the healthcare enterprise.
According to Dr. Alexander Towbin, radiologist and associate chief of clinical operations and informatics at Cincinnati’s Children’s Hospital Medical Center, that means there needs to be a tool that automatically labels those images. In order to have a tool like that, the industry must decide on a standard terminology to label certain body parts.
As an example, a dermatologist may label the part of the arm between the elbow and shoulder “upper arm,” but a radiologist might label it “humerus.” Without that standardization, it makes it difficult to build hanging protocols. “There are things we haven’t solved yet — not that there isn’t a solution, but we haven’t decided on one,” said Towbin.
This particular issue will be addressed at the Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine annual meeting in late June. One day prior to the event, a summit will convene specialists, vendors and other stakeholders to work on establishing a singular language for enterprise imaging.
“We are not trying to create a new body part language; we are trying to use something that is already there,” said Towbin. “There are 12 or more of those languages, so we just need to pick one.”
Another labeling challenge being addressed in enterprise imaging involves sensitive images like photos of a patient’s genitals, for example. Securing these files is of unique importance because of the sensitive nature of the data, and the potential for those files to cause serious problems if they were to fall into the wrong hands.
“In DICOM standards, there is currently no real methodology around that type of granularity that is needed,” he added. “We can label the photo a sensitive photo, but I have no way to identify that in a database and no way to institute protections around that photo.”
In order to protect these photos, there needs to be standards for labeling them and software tools with features that restrict access to them or require the user to actively push a button to view them.
For providers like Towbin, enterprise imaging is a constant work-in-progress, but most healthcare facilities have barely begun their enterprise imaging journey.
“If a hospital has done nothing so far, the first thing is to start thinking about it,” said Towbin. “People are taking pictures in your hospital whether you have a formal way to deal with it or not.”