Rochester RHIO makes image sharing strides

By Mike Miliard
10:29 AM

An improvement to Rochester Regional Health Information Organization's image exchange technology means providers will have easier access to X-rays, CT scans, MRIs and ultrasounds.

First introduced in 2009, Rochester RHIO's Image Exchange provides users with access to diagnostic-quality images, on any Internet-connected computer, at the click of an icon, officials say.

A new system update from Rochester-based eHealth Technologies means Image Exchange adds several features that make the RHIO more valuable to physicians.

Images that need to be seen right away for emergency treatment are now accessible, even before a radiologist has issued a report, officials say. For example, an X-ray taken at an urgent care clinic or small hospital emergency department can be instantly available to the specialist or larger hospital where a patient may need to go for more treatment.

Images are displayed with an onboard “zero footprint” viewer that lets physicians analyze details and make side-by-side comparisons, similar to the PACS (picture archiving communications systems) software used by radiology professionals, say Rochester RHIO officials. Retrieval is faster than before, with new software designed to deliver full-resolution images in a few seconds.

“The Image Exchange is an innovative tool that has helped to improve the quality of care for patients where images are critical to providing treatment,” explained Ted Kremer, executive director of the Rochester RHIO. “It lets specialists and primary care doctors see not just radiology reports but the images on which those reports are based.

Kremer noted that the Image Exchange minimizes delays in patient treatment, reduces the need for costly duplicate exams, limits unnecessary radiation exposure for patients and decreases the risk of medical errors due to an incomplete patient record.

Moreover, it eliminates the need for patients to carry X-ray films or images on CDs, enabled physicians in different organizations to compare current and past diagnostic tests and allowed them to can be accessed images via any secure browser via the RHIO’s Virtual Health Record.

More than 130,000 images are added to the Image Exchange every month, including those from the 19 hospitals and major imaging providers Borg & Ide Imaging, University Medical Imaging, Rochester Radiology, and Rochester Diagnostic Imaging, officials say. Altogether, more than 400 practices across Rochester, the Finger Lakes and the Southern Tier of Upstate New York are connected to the RHIO, for access to patient data including lab reports, hospital discharge summaries and medication history.

Ken Rosenfeld, president and chief technology officer for eHealth Technologies, says Rochester RHIO was the first to use its technology to share diagnostic images across a community. His firm now serve 10 HIEs around the country and provides its services to more than half of the nation’s top hospitals.

“We are pleased to work with the Rochester RHIO to improve this tool, making it simpler than ever to view patients’ images whenever and wherever needed,” says Rosenfeld, who notes that Image Exchange is a useful tool to help physicians achieve meaningful use.

Other new features on the Image Exchange include: an embedded collaboration tool, which will allow two or more people to view and work with the same image simultaneously.

“The new Image Exchange improves not only the quality but the speed of care, by providing doctors and their staff immediate access to images whenever they are needed to help treat a patient," adds Kremer.