Health Information Technology

Central to medicine is the ability of health information technology to connect health care systems together using appropriate standards so that data can flow and be understood between different systems.

More than 30 years ago, imaging equipment manufacturers and users of digital imaging equipment recognized the need for digital data exchange between providers using equipment from different manufacturers. Through the cooperative efforts of the American College of Radiology (ACR) and the medical division of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) – now named the Medical Imaging and Technology Alliance (MITA) – the Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) Standard emerged.  Today MITA manages the DICOM Standard.

Then known as the ACR-NEMA standard, the standard is a living and constantly evolving document, addressing the information transmission needs of new and existing modalities in a structured format. The DICOM Standard enjoys nearly universal acceptance worldwide.

With the near universal use of the DICOM 3.0 Standard today, all DICOM-compliant systems can be enabled to communicate with one another, to exchange patient data such as demographics, exam properties, images, numerical data, text and curves reliably, securely and efficiently. DICOM has evolved to support new imaging technologies and new storage paradigms, playing a key role in creating a fully digitized record that fits in the new virtual environment in medicine.

Through the widespread availability, adoption and use of the DICOM Standard, providers have the ability right now to transmit, store, retrieve and archive medical images and imaging information. Use of the DICOM Standard for communication of imaging information is fundamental to achieving the goal of development and implementation of a nationwide health information technology infrastructure.

Hospitals already exchange images on CDs. The adoption of imaging information, including images and imaging reports, and use of the Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine Standard to govern communication of imaging data, remains indispensable to ensuring the meaningful use of the electronic health record.

For information regarding MITA’s Joint Security and Privacy Committee please click here.