Back to the future

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Sorting through the marketing speak and technical jargon on the exhibit floor and then syncing it with what you hear in the sessions to get to what is really happening under the hood of commercial medical imaging informatics probably isn't possible in two days. Here are a few impressions. Please add yours in the comment section below.

After several years of stagnation, a fundamental shift is underway. Both in session rooms and on the exhibit floor, there was a pervasive sense of expectancy, a newfound can-do determination to re-imagine medical imaging informatics in the context of delivering information to the user when it is needed in the form (and form factor) required by the user.

Lenny Reznick called it the post-EMR era. "Things are changing," he says. "It's not just about radiology anymore. We 're selling PACS and PACS upgrades, but more of our products are focused on the integration of images into the EMR. Radiology understands the space and can play a leading role in getting images into the EMR."

Things are happening within the PACS environment, as well. David Wild says FUJIFILM's Synapse, which includes tightly integrated PACS, RIS, billing, scheduling, and financials, now allows users to "subscribe to content" at the patient level, including when a patient has additional imaging, same-day pre certification, transport, and pickup, for example. "Inside our system, we can follow content and stream it to the user," Wild says.

On the other end of the spectrum, Brad Levin, Visage Imaging, refers to the "beheading of the PACS" and a return to a best-of-breed mentality, in which providers have a choice of applications that reside on a server somewhere. Visage began life in the U.S. as an AV solution, then bloomed into a full-blown viewer. "The takeaway is that the app approach will win the day," Levin predicts. "It's more controllable by the design, the vendor, and the deployment expense. It provides an extendable infrastructure to build upon."

Where will that server live? Increasingly, it appears that these applications will reside in a hybrid cloud environment that blends features of a private cloud (edge servers and no commingling of data) and a public cloud (Internet as network), says James Philbin, PhD, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, who presented on Next Generation Archives Friday afternoon at SIIM. Encryption at rest is the answer to the data security concerns, Philbin says.

"The CTO at Hopkins believes our security gets violated between 10 and 30 times a day and we don't notice it, he says.

Tell us where you think imaging informatics is heading in 2012 in the comment section below.