06/21/2010 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Radiology: Looking Ahead

The industry trade "rag" for radiology is The name comes from a term used for years by radiologists and refers to the recognition of a familiar finding on an image: as a radiologist you should not have to "think" about some findings, the finding should be immediately recognized as if your "Aunt Minnie" walked into the room. Aunt is a reliable source of news and information regarding the radiology profession.

Radiology is a highly technical medical field and as a radiologist it is of the utmost importance to stay on top of the latest and greatest technologies. Working in an academic hospital and collaborating with some of the top scientists, physicians and surgeons in the industry has major advantages. My team has worked with leading software, hardware and device manufacturers to ensure that we have the tools needed to diagnose and treat our patients.

A recent article on talked about the importance of IT and the integration of medical records and PACS systems into the healthcare sphere. PACS, for those of you that do not know, stand for Picture Archive Communication System. It is a system that allows radiologists to send and receive digital images electronically and to share images and image expertise with our referring doctors in their offices, exam rooms, operating rooms, etc. PACS is similar to your home computer when you want to share a picture with your friends and family. First, your picture has to be in a digital format, either you have to take the picture with a digital camera or have a hardcopy picture scanned (digitized) into your computer. Once digitized, you can email the image to whomever you want that has a computer (email) address and appropriate software. PACS allows the images to be visualized on a monitor, virtually eliminating the need for hard copy film.

Digital image acquisition and PACS have redefined the way radiologists communicate and collaborate with referring physicians and have improved, as well as simplified, the reporting process. While on the phone, I can pull up an image on my monitor and chat with a referring physician who is peering at the same image somewhere else. Collaboration, which is a key component in quality patient care, has never been easier.

Does your doctor take hard copy or digital radiology images? Does he/she have access to images via PACS? If not, are they working on making it happen? Ask them what their IT objectives are in the coming year and how they think it will help to address their needs and better service you, the patient.