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News

U. of C. system to speed images to doctors

University Of Chicago : 23 September, 2005  (Technical Article)
Anyone who's ever cooled his heels in a doctor's waiting room might snicker to hear physicians have to wait two or three minutes to dial up digital images on their high-tech viewing equipment.
Anyone who's ever cooled his heels in a doctor's waiting room might snicker to hear physicians have to wait two or three minutes to dial up digital images on their high-tech viewing equipment.

But those short delays, multiplied over and over, waste hours every day, said Scott Reid, administrative director of imaging services at the University of Chicago Hospitals and Health System.

'Our radiologists spend a lot of time looking at archived images,' said Reid. 'When they have a new image of a tumor, they want to see what it looked like three months ago, to see the effects of therapy, for example.'

The current system for looking up old images is something like a giant jukebox with four players and more than 200 tapes storing in excess of 250,000 images made over the past four years. Typically, the system's four players are in use, so a radiologist's request for an image requires the automated system to put away the tape it has up, find and load in another one, and locate the appropriate digital image on it.

'It's like at home when you look through a stack of CDs to find the right one and then put it in a player and select the song you want,' said Reid. 'All that takes a lot of time. If you have your songs digitized on your [computer] hard drive, you can pick a tune and get it playing in seconds.'

That's more or less what the U. of C. will do with its digital medical images. The hospital system is getting an 11-terabyte archiving and distribution system from IBM that will make images available over the hospital's intranet within seconds, Reid said.
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