Categories: Benefitsbones

From skin to bones: The benefits of a common labeling language for enterprise imaging

Every medical specialty uses imaging. A patient might have X-rays from a ten-year-old fracture along with MRI scans and surgical photos from a recent cancer. The wealth of information affords doctors a more detailed look at a patient.

Enterprise imaging brings all of the specialties together. A photograph of a melanoma by a dermatologist, say, may be of interest to a patient’s primary care physician when trying to recommend care or next steps.

Making all this imaging available to relevant clinicians in an easily accessible way can deliver more efficient and integrated care. How these images are presented and searchable, however, can get pretty complicated, says Dr. Alexander Towbin of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

“A picture is worth a thousand words, and that’s generally true but it’s because we understand the picture,” said Towbin, who will present at HIMSS21 in Las Vegas next month. “As a radiologist I can tell the story of an X-ray because I can understand the image.”

Dr. Towbin is among a group of imaging experts working to define a common ontology of body part labeling across enterprise imaging. This language will allow a variety of clinicians to access and understand a patient’s full relevant data, he says.

At HIMSS21, Towbin will discuss how the HIMSS-SIIM Enterprise Imaging Community plans to advocate for the ontology to be incorporated as part of existing standards such as DICOM and HL7 FHIR.

He’ll describe the three metadata elements needed to selection of a relevant comparison imaging examination; explain how experts were convened to select a standard body part ontology for use in enterprise imaging, and preview the plan to foster adoption of a standard body part ontology for use in enterprise imaging

The specificity and complexity of the medical landscape makes the task a challenging one. Towbin envisions a framework that works across specialties, practices, and even borders. How much detail is too much?


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