The sharing of medical images is something that has and always will be a critical aspect of patient care. The information that medical imaging can provide is extremely valuable. If it is not provided in time, it can very possible lead to a delay in diagnosis, which in very severe cases can mean life or death. Without getting overly dramatic, we want to press the importance of good sharing methods that won’t get you in trouble. That’s right, if you are still faxing, burning CDs and DVDs, or parceling your images...think again.
While medical imaging is not the major focus of HIPAA or HITECH, it is important that practitioners be wary of the unique issues associated with this type of protected health information (PHI). Medical images are typically dense data files often much larger than their other medical record counterparts. It’s not unusual to find studies or series of images that exceed one gigabyte in size. Their storage, sharing and archive pose unique challenges for the practitioner. Hence, it is important to understand how best utilize this important diagnostic tool while not running afoul of regulations.