Why is IHE important for mammography?
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When I speak with experienced radiologists about the “old days” of reading film-based mammographic images, they often tell me they are now able to read more efficiently with today’s digital mammography technology. While intuitively you might assume that digital is and always has been better, many of us know that this capability represents a dramatic shift from the early days of digital mammography interpretation—when it wasn’t uncommon for a radiologist to take twice as long as to interpret a digital mammogram.
One contributor to making “soft copy” reading as efficient as film has been the IHE initiative, more formally known as Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise. IHE has played a vital role in creating standards-based integration and viewing of digital imaging modalities for mammography including FFDM, CR for mammography, MRI, ultrasound and other data sets. Most providers have multi-vendor, multi-modality environments that conduct hundreds of exams per day—creating a level of complexity that can only be overcome with well-coordinated, standards-based integration like outlined by IHE.
In addition to system integration, IHE has provided tools that help workflow and quality. As just one example… it has stipulated “image scaling” criteria for digitizing exams as well as different digital mammography modalities, so radiologists can compare current and prior imaging studies side-by-side using their preferred hanging protocols. This both speeds interpretation and enables greater diagnostic confidence.
As you might expect, IHE conformance has become important for technology suppliers. We have worked hard to make our entire mammography imaging chain IHE-compliant including our Mammography PACS, mammographic review workstations, digital imaging systems and printers. Our workstation, for example, enables radiologists to read all types of mammography and other imaging exams—regardless of the imaging modality or system vendor.
In a complex world where too few technologies “talk” to one another, IHE is playing a key role in helping providers improve productivity while enhancing service to referring physicians and, ultimately, patients.
What do you think? Is IHE important? Is there anything that IHE is forgetting that we in the industry should be doing?
– Anne Richards, Clinical Development Manager, Women’s Health
sorry for mistake in previous comments
I totally support IHE.. Why ?
DICOM and other standard played big role in standardizing imaging industry. DICOM & HL7 where (I think) made on purpose not to be so rigid to encourage vendors to support this standard. However, DICOM & HL7 where really not enough to assure interoperability between two entities and the reason is that DICOM doesn’t enforce any thing !
Thus, IHE came to make sure that using such and such DICOM & HL7 services we can assure interoperability. Furthermore, IHE is a good guideline to establish a workflow.
Hope to see more (real) IHE Conformant workflows, and workflow management systems.