SIIM 2012: A changing of the guard?
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Lisa Fratt, Editor, Health Imaging

There was a familiar cast at the annual meeting of the Society for Imaging informatics in Medicine in Orlando, Fla. As in previous years, Katherine Andriole, Paul Chang, Keith Dreyer, Ramin Khorasani and Eliot Siegel and other imaging informatics giants shared their knowledge with an eager audience. This year, the statesmen (or statespeople) of SIIM shared the stage with a group of newcomers—the millennials, who offered a fresh and futuristic perspective. PACS, iPads, decision support and other “new” tools are not new to this generation. They are the tools.

Semantics and age differences aside, both groups challenged the status quo. Siegel strengthened the case by referring to PACS pioneers and noted that Samuel J. Dwyer, PhD, the father of PACS, might be surprised by the slow rate of innovation in PACS, RIS and speech recognition systems.

Both generations detailed the need for PACS to adapt to their workflow. Instead of workflow being dictated by PACS, the system should adapt to the radiologist and the clinical situation as well as the capability of the technologies and the demographic realities.

Just as new systems should be more user-friendly for radiologists, they also should take into account the needs of the end customers—referring clinicians and patients—and deliver the radiology product in a manner that meets their needs. The possibilities are nearly limitless, and may include video reports with embedded hyperlinks or direct-to-patient results.

One possible new reality may be a post-HIPAA world. Millennial physicians and patients thoroughly inhabit social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Privacy, while not quite a non-issue, is not a major concern among this generation. Will imaging informatics leverage social media? Or, perhaps, the question is, how will imaging informatics leverage social media?

Although early use cases do not address privacy policies, they offer a preview of the power of social media.

At SIIM 2012, Carl Miller, MD, of Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions in Baltimore, detailed an early imaging informatics application. When Hopkins approved the investment in a clinical viewer, Miller and crew secured physician buy-in by bypassing the traditional vendor bake-off and replacing it with a website and database to track feedback.

It’s likely that this pilot represents the mere tip of the iceberg; enterprising millennials will force the issue.

How are enterprising millennials, and other imaging informatics consumers, spurring your enterprise to reconsider PACS? Please let us know.

Lisa Fratt, editor
Health Imaging