In late 2015, the Radiological Society of North America teamed with The Sequoia Project, an industry collaboration to advance secure health information exchange, to launch a program supporting the electronic exchange of medical images and related diagnostic reports.
The goal of the Image Share Validation program is to test vendors’ implementations of standards for medical imaging developed by DICOM and IHE (Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise) that enable clinicians to share images and reports and give patients control over their own information, says Chris Carr, director of informatics at RSNA. The Sequoia Project will administer the program.
Pilot testing is underway with as many as eight vendors participating in the initial cycle. While Carr says the program will not release the identity of participating vendors until testing is complete, one vendor, Lexmark Healthcare, has already announced its participation.
The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering is funding the pilot to enable radiology sites to share images and reports with patients through personal health records accounts provided by two vendors, DICOM Grid and lifeIMAGE. Both companies further have committed to incorporating standards into their commercial products.
The network currently has 12 active provider sites, including standalone radiology practices, hospital radiology sites and physician practices.
As of August 5, about 26,000 patients have used Image Share to receive images and reports, according to Carr. The project aims to not only empower patients, but also reduce duplicate medical imaging examinations.
Vendors successfully completing testing in the Image Share Validation program will receive an RSNA Image Share Network validation mark that they can display for promotional purposes.
Current funding of the pilot project continues through March 2017, with the goal of having a business continuity plan in place to enable the network to be self-supporting.
With Image Share seeking to become a national network, there are multiple delivery system, statewide and regional networks already operating that could decide to participate, Carr notes.
He acknowledges that incentives for sharing information are not always clear and that some providers may be slow in adopting such practices because of concerns such as security and patient retention, but he notes the overall trend, fueled by accountable care and value-based reimbursement, is toward greater information sharing.
“Networks will form where there is a proven business need among a cluster of sites and now, using standards-based image sharing, these networks can connect to other networks,” he says.
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