By John Garrett
It is coming, in the larger cities it may be here already and you won’t be able to stop it. There are men and women in suits that are a little too slick selling it to people that aren’t qualified to know if it is what they really need. And the answer is yes, you will be expected and even forced to deal with the fall out. The worst part is that no one is yet sure exactly what that fall out will be.
The salesperson will come in through your I.T./I.S. department with promises of, “seamless transitions” and “complete solutions” that should make your blood run cold. They will say things like, “hospitals/radiologists/medical facilities systems are in there infancy still and this is the inevitable evolution … ” The truth is that they are right, and it will not be as easy as they claim. But what are they right about?
It is going by a few different names. But what it really is can be described easily, implementation may be another matter. It is an Enterprise solution to data management. It is a single system to manage all data in the hospital. From the time a patient enters a hospital to the moment they leave everything that happens will be recorded and stored on this system. If you are currently blissfully unaware, there are typically several systems that interact. While this system will be largely in the hands of the IT/IS department, it will impact the imaging department in ways yet to be determined.
Take a minute and think about it, every image taken, every note, every scrape of data will be stored in this system. No big deal. We already have the Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS). Yes there is PACS, but if you take a moment to recall the implementation of the first PACS systems you may need a moment to slow your heart rate. For those that may have missed it, it was a painful time where the gulf between IT/IS and Imaging FSEs was formed. It was a time where IT/IS blamed everything on the system and the FSE until they were forced to read a DICOM conformance statement and realized that they had to create a map for DICOM headers that did not exactly match the PACS system. Please don’t get upset, but we have to remember the screen capture devices used to format images into DICOM format. They are coming back.
If you are still reading instead of stomping around the shop screaming, “NOOOOOOOOOOOO!” I will tell you why. They are advertising saving EVERY IMAGE. That means the scopes that are used in surgery, the small ultrasound units, and every other modality you don’t currently worry about saving images for right now.
You have two choices, resist change or embrace it. If you embrace it, you may be included in the decisions that will come home to rest in your areas of responsibility. Brace yourself, grit your teeth, and get ready for the ride. Because IT is coming.