Health IT in focus at RSNA’s centennial

November 27, 2014 in Medical Technology

Radiology and information technology are not the same, of course. But they do overlap, and enable each other in critical ways. At the 100th annual gathering of RSNA, amid all the discussion of computed tomography, ultrasound and molecular imaging, there will be a key focus on informatics: data sharing, clinical decision support and much more.

[See also: RSNA Image Share Network in growth mode]

“We have an array of superb presentations and discussions lined up for informatics at RSNA this year,” said Rasu B Shrestha, MD, chief innovation officer at UPMC and chair of RSNA’s Radiology Informatics Subcommittee.

Hot topics this at RSNA this year – it takes place November 30 through December 5 at McCormick Place in Chicago –  include value, analytics, mobility, quality and image analysis, says Shrestha. Also, “we will see superb work presented around image segmentation and measurement (and) quantitative imaging.”

[See also: IHE certifies 8 for interoperability ]

There have also been big advancements made with regard to imaging business analytics, he added, “as well as key work around quality and safety issues such as peer review, medication error reduction and radiation dose.”

RSNA has long been at the forefront of IT-enabled initiatives, of course, such as Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise, launched in 1998 in partnership with HIMSS and the American College of Cardiology, which focuses on driving connectivity and interoperability, and RSNA Image Share, which was created to help radiologists share images with their patients via personal health records.

That commitment continues, said Shrestha. “There is a dire need to ‘free up the images’ and liberate them from back-end systems, so they can follow the patient wherever the patient goes.

“The RSNA Image Share initiative is a stellar example of leveraging the latest technologies in cloud and image sharing to enable streamlined processes around this great need,” he said. “At the RSNA Conference this year, we will hear discussions and see demonstrations of key advancements made in this area including around patient-focused image sharing, structured reporting and communication of actionable findings to referring physicians using templates and video communication.”

As much as they have in common, sometimes IT and imaging technology can seem to inhabit different worlds. Why should someone who works in health information technology, who may not think very often about imaging, consider exploring a show like RSNA? On the flip side, why should someone who works in radiology care about health IT?

“Imaging is in many ways the central spine of the workings of a healthcare facility,” said Shrestha. “Optimizing imaging in many ways optimizes the rest of the flow in the system. Imaging is also a high cost, high value area of the healthcare delivery paradigm – an area with much innovation happening in many different areas. The RSNA annual conference is a great place to come in and see the latest and greatest developments and innovations in the space of imaging.”

Conversely, he said, radiologists should recognize the value IT can bring to their work.

“Imaging today is not a departmental need, it is truly an enterprise need,” said Shrestha. “Imaging works best if imagers and others who work in imaging are able to best build the bridges to the rest of healthcare information technology, and leverage the synergies that clearly exist between the teams.

“While radiology images do get generated in the department, the continuum of imaging extends from the ordering of the studies all the way to the consumption of the reports to follow ups and outcomes measurements – with the patient at the center of the entire continuum,” he added. “Whether it is challenges around cloud computing, interoperability or patient engagement, the solutions we can come up with work best when radiology’s needs and innovations are best bridged with capabilities and technologies in the enterprise.”

As for IT-focused education sessions, Shrestha says “it’s critical for attendees of RSNA to ensure that they stuff themselves well around their Thanksgiving table – because they will need every ounce of that energy as they walk the aisles of McCormick Place soaking in the sessions and the technical exhibits.”

Simply put, “there are a host of superb IT-focused educational sessions this year, he said. Three of his picks.

  • IHE Workflow Efficiency from Acquisition to the Report (Sunday, 4-5:30 p.m.) showcases “the key role IHE plays in streamlining radiology workflow, direct from the experts in the industry,” said Shrestha. “You will also learn how IHE facilitates interoperability and will be able to explore features of the new IHE profile for management of radiology report templates.”
  • Correlating Imaging with Human Genomics (Monday, 10:30 a.m.-noon). “This session should be fresh and interesting,” he said. “Come explore the potential value of correlating radiological images with genomic data for research and clinical care and learn how to access genomic and imaging data from the Cancer Genome Atlas and the Cancer Imaging Archive databases, respectively.”
  • Informatics (Image Sharing) “Covering imaging sharing and the cloud – the papers in this session (Wednesday 3-4 p.m.) will cover key advancements in these areas over the past year,” he said. “This session features two presentations by Jason D. Balkman MD, including a highly-rated paper titled “VeNOS: A Vendor Neutral Open Source DICOM Solution for Cloud-based Medical Image Sharing.”

It’s getting “almost impossible to distinguish between imaging and informatics,” said Shrestha. “In the next few years, we will see a further embracing of patient-centered care, and a greater urgency in the industry to derive true value out of imaging to further intelligent diagnostics and information technology investments across healthcare. We will the emergence of intelligent systems that are less siloed and more connected than ever before to the many clinical information systems that today already surround us.”

At the heart of it all, of course, “will be the patient – such that technology truly advances patient care, from the quality of the scans, to the ultimate patient experience in their journey through healthcare,” he said.

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