No data is stored on Web servers and all of the data is encrypted when in motion. Providers and patients trying to access the data have to go to a secure Web browser, log into the system, and then they can download the exam. eMix can track and audit everything that happens to the exam until it is downloaded, from there it depends on each individual provider's security protocols and guidelines.
The other question many providers have is how long the image stays on the server. IMOM is still in the process of determining the length of time an image will stay active on the eMix server before it is purged, but one thing is certain—this is not intended to be a repository, says Knudson. "We are not in the PACS business," she says. "We can't go to rural Montana to a 10-bed hospital and say it will cost this much to play the game."
Meeting the needs of such a diverse group can be a challenge, but so far eMix has resolved any issues that have arisen, says Knudson. For instance, at first the group thought providers would need Internet Explorer IX 8, but the system can be used on Internet Explorer 6 or 7.
"That is important when talking about rural America," says Knudson. Currently, IMOM, which plans to fully implement the system in the first quarter of 2010, is trying to figure out how to send images to more than one computer within a facility.
This model seems like a no brainer for rural regions like Montana. Even though some providers may have to deal with a slow DSL connection, the technology is still faster than FedEx, says O'Leary. It also provides a full-res image, which is what radiologists and physicians want. Kalispell Regional has already been using a Web-based product to share images with physicians, but those are compressed images.
"They can view the images, but can't send them to their PACS or compare to full res images," he says.
O'Leary says this type of exchange offers benefits to metro areas, as well as, rural. "Everyone has problems sending data," he says. "There is no downside to it. You don't have any overhead costs or costs for setting up the applications. You don't have software and hardware; it is using standard Internet connections. And you can save money and get images to other facilities immediately."