ARRS: Image Share project allows patients to 'own' their images

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Storing medical images in the cloud makes distribution faster for patients who want to share images with their physicians, regardless of where the physician is located, according to a preliminary report on the Radiological Society of North America's Image Share project presented April 30 at the American Roentgen Ray Society (ARRS) annual meeting in Vancouver.

Image Share is a project involving five different academic institutions, including University of California, San Francisco; University of Chicago; Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.; University of Maryland in College Park; and Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.

The central idea of the project revolves around the storing of images and radiology reports in an internet-based personal health record, explained David S. Mendelson, MD, chief of clinical informatics at Mount Sinai and principal investigator of the Image Share project. Once the information is in the personal health record, the patient has full control over distribution, with immediate image viewing and download available by signing into one’s personal health record or through email links which can be sent to physicians.

One benefit of the quick and easy access to images is that it could “encourage appropriate utilization of imaging services and diminish the unnecessary radiation exposure secondary to the duplication of recent examinations because those previous examinations are not easily available to providers," Mendelson said in a statement.

Patients also like the project because they “own” the exam, added Mendelson.

Security and confidentiality are high priorities for the project, and Mendelson said safeguards have been put in places to address these challenges and ensure local HIPAA issues are addressed.

In phase two of the project, patients will be allowed to share their images without the images first being uploaded to a personal health record, which could be particularly useful in the event of severe acute traumas involving the transfer to a trauma center. Phase three will de-identify data and make them available for clinical trials, according to Mendelson.

The Image Share project was funded by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering.