Docs Digitize to Maximize and Visualize

Docs Digitize to Maximize and Visualize
By:  Dave Courvoisier

(Cape Girardeau, MO)--Anything's fair game in the digital revolution.  Paper tends to become obselete, and storage takes up the space of a shoebox, not a room. 

If there's any one industry that generates a lot of paperwork, it's the health field: doctors and hospitals. Now they have a new tool that makes diagnosis, delivery and storage all that much faster without paper or film.
Mammograms, CAT scans, Nuclear Medicine, MRI's -- they all generate reams of data, and lots of paperwork. Sometimes -- as with X-Rays -- the final result is film.
That is the way it's been done for decades.  The data is stored on film, and viewed with a backlight, but the future is taking the same data, digitizing it, and viewing it on a computer screen.  What's the advantage to you, the patient?  Well, for one thing, you won't have to trot your X-Rays across town to your doctor's office.
"Everything is digital from the point of acquisition to the point of storage, and becasue of that, we can make an infinite number of copies if we need to , or we canburn it onto something like a CD-ROM or DVD, or send it over the internet," says Dr. Mark Gates, the Chief of Radiology for Southeast Missouri Hospital in Cape Girardeau.
20-thousand dollars buys a pair of special black 'n' white, ultra-high resolution computer monitors where the scans or x-rays are viewed.  A special room nearby houses all the servers,  storage, networking and so forth.  The system stores up to 5 year's worth of records.  At 80-100 thousand examinations a year, the savings in space alone is almost worth it, and so is the entire investment over time.
 "If you can move from a digital medium like we're doing now, it may cost you 800-thousand to one, one and a half million dollars, but you can recoup your investment in about a year to two years," says Gates.
But the real advantage comes in the speed and accuracy of diagnosis.  Multiple doctors can view the X-rays or scans at various locations at the same time.  And the image itself can be manipulated into revealing new 3-D aspects that film or paper just can't provide.
  "That's important in something like facial trauma, where you may have multiple facial fractures, and the surgeons are having a tough idea because of the swelling, what do the bones look like, how has this person';s face been deformed as a result of the accident," adds Gates.

"And suppose you're down in Florida vacationing, and you get into a car wreck.  They could dial into here, look at all your previous medical records, and ain in your diagnosis, anywhere around the world," says Gates.

What Dr. Gates is referring to is a compenent of this technology that allows medical data to be transferred across the internet.  that creates a lot of privacy concerns for patients, but Gates says  they have someone checking on security according to federal standards, full-time.