DICOM Matters!

DICOM Matters!

This piece was originally published in the May 2018 issue of electroindustry.

Lisa Spellman, AStd, DICOM General Secretary, MITA

Ms. Spellman has extensive experience in technology, standards development, healthcare, health IT, health policy, and business.

As I begin a new chapter as the general secretary for DICOM, I’m busy writing pages for what I expect to be an interesting chapter in an already full book.

DICOM is the familiar acronym for Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine. It ensures the interoperability of systems used to produce, store, display, process, send, retrieve, and query medical images and related information. NEMA holds the copyright.

Even though I was quite familiar with DICOM and health IT standards before I arrived at NEMA, there is much to learn. I love meeting new stakeholders and listening to their questions, interests, needs, and concerns. Here are a few.

Does DICOM Still Matter? Isn’t It Done?

This one is easy: DICOM still matters and it is not done. It matters for more reasons than I have space here.

DICOM adoption tells a story. It is one of the most widely deployed healthcare messaging standards in the world. It is ubiquitous in radiology and cardiology imaging. It is so widely deployed that it has set the standard to demonstrate how a well-developed and thoughtfully deployed standard can live up to the promise of standards.

Generally viewed as an expansion opportunity, DICOM has extended into such clinical domains as dentistry, ophthalmology, pathology, and encounter-based imaging. With the evolution of electronic health records, the use of DICOM objects and services will continue to grow.

So clearly, DICOM isn’t done. That’s because healthcare and technology are not done; medical imaging is the fastest growing and most profitable segment of healthcare. DICOM has endured because it was developed to be extensible, flexible, and built to meet the future—not bang up against it.

Does DICOM Address Security?

Security considerations were built into DICOM from the start. Of course, no one can ever know exactly how technology will advance, and hackers do immense damage. We cannot cover the large topic in this article, so I invite you to visit this link to learn more: www.dicomstandard.org/using/security.

What’s Hot?

One exciting area is 3D printing, which is also known as additive manufacturing. It is seeing rapid adoption, with multiple applications directly related to patient care. There is a strong natural tie between 3D printing and medical imaging, as cross-sectional imaging is often used to design a replacement organ or to validate an object’s design relative to patient anatomy.

DICOM WG-17 has creative experts from around the world collaborating to extend and promote its use for the creation, storage, and management of 3D printing models in settings where the model is either derived from medical images or expected to be compared or composited with medical images.

Another tidbit is patient-centered care mandates. DICOM supports access to data from multiple institutions—anywhereand consistent access to all types of data, including images.

What Are My Goals?

At various times in my career, I’ve worked with new standards or the development of standards that had yet to exist. I’m intrigued to work with a mature standard that has so much opportunity and exciting work underway.

At one time or another, we’ve each been a patient and we’ve each cared for a patient. I want to do my part to work with some of the best experts in the world to help move medicine forward and improve patient outcomes.

DICOM has many exciting initiatives underway. We regularly publish news and updates in the MITA Minute and on the DICOM website. Visit www.dicomstandard.org to learn more. Or just ask. I love answering questions.


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