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Health Information Technology

Healthcare information technology (IT) has the potential to dramatically improve the delivery and use of medical imaging technology. Specifically, the $19 billion of health IT funds in the recently passed America Recovery and Reinvestment Act is an encouraging investment that will help us to harness the power of health IT to make healthcare more accessible, enhance the quality of patient care, reduce costs and inefficiencies, and remove barriers to appropriate screenings and treatments so that patients are able to access the most advanced imaging technologies.

The medical imaging community is a long-time proponent of interoperable health IT standards, and has been a leader in their development since 1985 when the industry established the Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) standards, which still serve as the international paradigm for interoperable medical imaging.

Driven by the DICOM standards, today the majority of healthcare institutions already have diagnostic images available in a standard digital format via Picture Archive and Communication Systems (PACS) – a network of computers that store, display, share and manage all medical images. Because PACS have already been integrating imaging data for more than a decade, imaging is perhaps the most networked area of clinical information today.

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