Website for patients to share diagnostic-quality medical images
16 February 2009
US company Heart Imaging Technologies (HeartIT) has launched a free
website allowing patients to upload and share diagnostic-quality medical
images using just a standard web browser.
"Patients can literally email a web link to someone halfway around
the world allowing them to instantly view movies of a beating heart,"
said Brent Reed, HeartIT's Vice President for Sales and Marketing. "And
the best part about it is that the service is completely free."
The industry-standard format for medical images is DICOM. Viewing of
DICOM-formatted medical images traditionally requires dedicated
workstations costing thousands of dollars, which in turn are connected
to picture archiving communications and storage (PACS) systems costing
hundreds of thousands more. All of this makes it practically impossible
for the average patient to view images of their own body. Today,
however, Web 2.0 technologies are empowering patients with the ability
to manage their own electronic medical records.
"When I tried to open the [DICOM] files at home, they wouldn't open
with any software that I had on my computer," said Page Watkins, an
expectant mother, who had received a copy of her baby's sonogram on CD.
"I went online, Googled the extension that they were filed with and
found that your site offered software to open the files. Even better,
your software was able to save these images in a format that could be
viewed on a standard DVD player. Needless to say, the slideshow was a
hit at our family Christmas."
"Many patients don't realize that they have a legal right to request
copies of their medical images," said Paul Cardullo, HeartIT's Director
of Software Development. "All they need to do is ask their doctor for a
CD with their images in the standard DICOM format and upload them from
any PC or Macintosh computer. Patients can then decide whether or not to
allow other people to view their images in a web browser and/or download
the DICOM data to another part of the world."
Security on the website is based on the same technologies used for
online banking. As an added precaution, private information such as
names and dates are automatically removed from the DICOM header during
uploading. Webpax systems have approval for use as medical devices in
the US and Europe.
The website is at
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