Imaging And Radiology Paves The Way For Industry Adoption Of Open Source

Gorkem Sevinc | | February 24, 2014

Open source software in healthcare has been instrumental for sharing common tools and increasing adoption of emerging medical information technology (IT) standards. By leading the effort to digitize health data, imaging informatics has set the precedent for the adoption of the technology industry's best practices and subsequently open source software.

The domain of imaging informatics is generally associated with radiology, though other specialties such as cardiology, pathology, and dermatology are also heavily based on medical imaging. Radiology involves both sophisticated medical hardware and software. The "modalities," such as Computed Tomography (CT), Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Computed Radiography (CR/DR, otherwise known as X-Ray), produce images that are interpreted by radiologists. Radiologists are medical doctors with specialized training in imaging, who often use software tools with advanced postprocessing and computer vision functionality to interpret the images.

The storage and presentation of medical images was one of the first initial challenges in imaging informatics; a typical CT scan today produces thousands of images, which require storage space of ~500MB. A 1000-bed hospital may have more than 1300 radiology examinations done in a single day with an average of 350+ images, and these images need to be stored for at least seven years (different rules apply for pediatrics and mammography) due to Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations. [...]