Tuesday, November 30, 2010

RSNA 2010: lifeIMAGE

My first stop on the exhibit floor was a visit to many old friends at lifeIMAGE.  I have to resist the temptation to refer to LI as the New AMICAS, but you could forgive me if I did, for many new and recent AMICAS graduates have found their way over.  These are the people that made AMICAS what it was, and I have no doubt there will be a repeat performance, although with a slightly different destination. 

You may recall my piece about lifeIMAGE from August, 2009.  Since then, there has been significant progress.  Let me bring you up to speed.

lifeIMAGE has a simple goal:  "lifeIMAGE helps you break down the barriers and provide real-time access to trusted sites and individuals. Our solutions help you deliver results of recent exams or the entire imaging history to community physicians and patients alike."  This is the answer to the "portable patient" I have bemoaned on AuntMinnie and elsewhere, and quells the disaster I live through every day.  At our oncology clinic, for example, I have to compare at least 5 CD's of outside studies with the current exam on PACS most every day.  At the trauma center, not a day goes by without a trauma victim bringing in a CT on a CD; if it won't open, or if it got lost in the ambulance, the patient gets scanned again.  Can you say "radiation"? 

LI has about the best answer I have found for this very serious problem, short of wiring the entire country together:

Millions of patient CDs

Today, imaging information often arrives on CDs with patients visiting physician offices and clinics throughout a healthcare enterprise. With lifeIMAGE, users can instantly upload, view, and share the outside exams from any workstation. Busy specialists save valuable time with automated workflow for identity reconciliation and push to PACS features.

Secure transfer from referral sites

Ideally, imaging information should arrive before patients' appointments or transfers. The lifeIMAGE service enables physicians to receive the data from anywhere without requiring any software at the sending end. The service improves referral flow, creates opportunities for second opinion and distance consulting while saving time and avoiding duplicate and unnecessary scans.

Electronic delivery of results

Specialties such as Orthopedics, Cardiology, Neurology, and Oncology most frequently refer patients to facilities that deliver results with high quality of service. The lifeIMAGE cloud-based result distribution system sets a new bar for quality. With our service, results and notifications are delivered automatically or on demand and the referring physicians or patients can collect results from any facility in one place.
There are three basic components, which have evolved nicely since I last had a look:
1) For facilities that receive a high volume of outside exams (patient CDs) and/or perform a high volume of imaging exams with outgoing results, the ideal network gateway is LILA™ (lifeIMAGE Local Appliance).

2) For facilities that refer a reasonable number of patients to larger facilities and would like to electronically send patient imaging history to other sites, the ideal network gateway is LISA™ (lifeIMAGE Smart Agent).

3) For physicians, facilities, or patients who care to create a cloud-based account to receive and share a modest volume of imaging studies from anywhere and with anyone, a lifeIMAGE LINCS™ Account is the ideal means of communication.

LILA utilizes "Drop Boxes" to which a referring site can upload a study, assuming they are properly credentialled.  The exam appears of course in the "In Box", and can be nominated for upload to the local PACS, with the approval of the PACS admin in charge of such things.  There is a limited, but still VERY adequate viewer within the system (which is platform independent, appearing in your web browser.)  Non-DICOM images, document scans, etc, can be attached. 

LINCS, the lifeIMAGE Cloud, allows for real time sharing of annotations.  My PACS doesn't even do that. 

Future plans include LIVE, lifeIMAGE Virtual Enterprise, which will connect two LILA sites, and create a "trust" agreement for a particular user to see a particular patient's data.  That certainly goes a long way toward solving the portable patient problem, as long as we can get the various hospitals on board.

I was lucky enough to arrive not long after the announcement of a very important development for lifeIMAGE, integration to Microsoft's Health Vault.  A patient simply establishes an account, receives a security code and sets up a security challenge question.  Once uploaded via lifeIMAGE, his/her exams are available to whomever the patient designates:
With a patient’s permission, physicians using lifeIMAGE services will have the option to share medical image exams and associated reports directly with a HealthVault account. When an exam is shared, patients will be prompted to complete the transfer by logging into their HealthVault account to claim the exam or creating a new account, and then claiming the exam. lifeIMAGE’s HIPAA-compliant platform employs a series of security checks to ensure the privacy and security of all data.

“The HealthVault platform is designed for ease of integration with third-party applications that bring value to the health consumer. lifeIMAGE’s image sharing application helps HealthVault account holders stay in control of their care and have an easier time obtaining second opinions from other physicians anywhere,” said Hamid Tabatabaie, president and CEO of lifeIMAGE.
 
This is a big, ummm, deal, to paraphrase the Vice President. 
 
As my hometown is of only moderate population, with five hospitals and various other imaging centers, I'm hoping to become the prototypical community to adopt the lifeIMAGE solution.  The problem we face is huge.  All I have to do is convince the powers-that-be that the answer is at hand.  I truly believe it is.
 
More to come from frigid Chicago.  I still don't get why anyone lives here...

2 comments :

Gabriel said...

I feel your pain about Chicago. I'm a radiologist based in Miami. I took a look out of the window this morning, saw snow and fully considered if the RSNA courses are going to be worth it today.

I agree with your assessment about lifeimage. It is definitely a needed solution and they've done a great job. I subspecialize in nucs and see a ton of pet-ct and medical CDs have always been a problem. Because of this, some colleagues and I began developing our own solution and we would love to get your feedback.

Anonymous said...

If only RSNA was in Miami at the end of November rather than Chicago...

I was also impressed after speaking with the folks at lifeIMAGE this week and have heard positive reviews from some of their early customers. I was curious if you stopped by the SeeMyRadiology (Accelarad) booth? You wrote that LI "has the best answer" but after demos of both systems, I'm not sure how to differentiate the respective offerings. From what I understand, both are improved CD uploaders, offer a zero-install universal viewer and cloud based sharing. Do you have any additional commentary on why LI is best as compared to SeeMyRadiology, eMix, or OneMedNet (which I didn't see at the show).