At RSNA, a place for IT and informatics

Interoperability, data exchange, mobile devices all on the agenda
By Mike Miliard
04:44 PM

The 99th Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting of the Radiological Society of North America is not just about imaging. Far from it.  

When you and 55,000 of your closest friends gather at McCormick Place in Chicago Dec. 1 through Dec. 6, there will be plenty new to see, do and learn – and, of course, lots of envelope-pushing imaging equipment packing the show floor.

As HIMSS Analytics Executive Vice President John Hoyt told Healthcare IT News this past November: "I like going to RSNA, it's futuristic. It's like going to Star Wars."

RSNA is touted as the largest medical trade show in the U.S. The numbers are eye-popping. More than 53,000 people from more than 110 countries came to Chicago in 2012. In 2013, registration is up 6 percent.

Attendees – radiologists, radiation oncologists, radiologic technologists and more – are in for six days of educational programs: 238 refresher courses, 89 multi-sessions, 38 series courses, 39 special sessions and six plenary sessions. Some 2,200 education exhibits and more than 930 scientific posters and 643 technical exhibits will fill a total of 434,675 square feet of McCormick Place.

In addition, more than 1,800 scientific papers in 16 subspecialties, from molecular imaging to neuroradiology to nuclear medicine to radiobiology will be published there.

But while imaging is the certainly the crux of the show, health information technology also plays much more than just a supporting role. There are 45 informatics courses at RSNA this year, covering everything from data exchange to patient safety to privacy and security. Here's a sampling:

  • IHE Clinical Solutions for Interoperability -- Imaging and Beyond (Sunday, Dec. 1, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.) aims to help providers better understand the Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise initiative and its IHE profiles, so critical to imaging interoperability. It offers lessons based on real-world implementations such as Cleveland Clinic's enterprise-wide multi-specialty imaging integration and implementation.
  • Meaningful Use for Radiology IT Vendors: What Your Customers will Demand, and Your Competition will Provide (Monday, Dec. 2, 4:30-6 p.m.) takes a look at the sometimes fraught relationship between meaningful use and imaging, especially since Stage 2. While the incentive program was meant mostly for primary care specialties, under certain circumstances could apply to diagnostic radiology. This course aims to help technology vendors take stock of their product portfolios and define a pathway toward MU certification of these modules.
  • Radiology Informatics Series: Mobile Computing Devices (Dec. 2, 8:30 a.m.-noon) explores many issues related to imaging and mHealth, touching on subjects such as: platforms and security, clinical imaging mobile apps, bandwidth and integration tips, displays and quality assurance, iPad-based diagnosis and more.

After attending these sessions, there will also be a new and easy way to log continuing medical education credits with your smartphone, says Steve Drew, RSNA's assistant executive director of scientific assembly and informatics.

Once upon a time, attendees had to drop a paper voucher in a box after their education sessions. A barcode that identifies the doctor would be scanned after the fact, and then a week or two later they'd be sent a CME certificate.

"This year we've developed an electronic system – with any smart device, they can apply for the credit, do the course evaluation, and conceivably print out the certificate before they leave the meeting if they wanted to," he says.

And for those unable to make it to Chicago – or overwhelmed by the many, many education sessions at McCormick – RSNA Virtual Meeting allows registrants to view live sessions during the show, and archived online through December 13.

"It'll all be online," says Drew. "Folks on-site or globally can have access to the sessions. Those are all available for CME when they're live, and then they're available on-demand for up to one week."

[See also: At RSNA, 'a new age' of informatics]