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The Trouble with Image Sharing, and the Opportunity

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media, August 20, 2013

Meanwhile, hospitals have just now reached the 1990s in one regard. Patients are now bringing in hordes of images on compact disks. Massachusetts General Hospital performs 750,000 imaging exams a year, but also brings in more than 100,000 exams per year from patients carrying CDs into the facility, according to Keith Dreyer, MD, vice chairman of radiology at Mass General.

According to LifeImage, when the average consumer-provided CD arrives at a hospital, 22 percent of them will not open. More than half result in additional re-radiating tests being performed. And even when a CD does open, it takes 4 minutes per CD to copy.

There are also concerns by Newburger and others that the Blue Button initiative underway at ONC remains oriented too heavily toward text, and not enough toward image download and exchange.

The opportunity of image sharing outweighs all these challenges. In this column, I've tried to illustrate potential cost savings and benefits to care. I encourage the HIT Standards Committee Clinical Operations Workgroup to continue its work, and for providers and the industry to join them in their efforts to break through some of these barriers, to share best practices, and make real headway, despite the continuing market forces promoting high cost, difficult sharing and opportunities lost.


Scott Mace is senior technology editor at HealthLeaders Media.
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