In fact, a 2012 study by Manhattan Research revealed that nearly 62 percent of doctors utilize some type of tablet device in their practice, nearly doubling the adoption rate since 2011.[1. Manhattan Research. “Taking the Pulse® U.S. 2012 study.” Contact: Stephanie Cooper. May, 2012.]
The Changing Landscape in Mobile Imaging
Medical images are a foundational component in the healthcare industry. They are used to diagnose diseases and serve as the basis for developing treatment strategies. Doctors have immediate access to visual data inside their own facility, but the options for sharing or accessing images remotely have been limited. Mobile imaging removes these technical barriers through the use of portable, visual communication devices and dedicated imaging software.
The improvement in mobile tablet devices is the primary driver behind the growing adoption of the mobile imaging platform. The introduction of the retina display, most notably in the in third generation iPad, has provided physicians and technicians with remarkably clear and precise images. In fact, an Academic Radiology research report found that there was virtually no diagnostic performance difference between an iPad with a retina display and a secondary-class LCD device when interpreting CT and MR imaging examinations.[2. Academic Radiology. Volume 19, Issue 8, Pages 1023-1028. “Flexible Image Evaluation: iPad versus Secondary-class Monitors for Review of MR Spinal Emergency Cases, A Comparative Study.” Jonathan P. McNulty, BSc, MSc,
John T. Ryan, PhD, Michael G. Evanoff, PhD, Louise A. Rainford, PhD. August 2012.]
Practical Consumer Benefits
Mobile imaging applications can enhance the communication between different healthcare providers, which is an essential element in improving patient care. In both critical care and emergency situations, early access to vital medical images streamlines the diagnostic process.
The ability to reference medical images from virtually any location encourages physicians to disconnect from centralized reading rooms and interact directly with colleagues and patients. An early evaluation in a trauma case can have a significant impact in achieving a positive treatment outcome. When the lag between image generation and the physician’s interpretation is reduced, the patient may be discharged sooner, which reduces costs and improves the overall level of satisfaction with the healthcare system.[3. Diagnostic Imaging: Mobile Computing in Radiology: the Challenges and Benefits. Whitney L.J. Howell. February 12, 2013]
People who receive outpatient care benefit when their physician uses a mobile imaging application. Instead of driving to a hospital or dedicated imaging facility to pick up a CD, the patient can access their own images remotely through their physician’s portal. The data is secure, encrypted, and the nature of the exchange enhances personal privacy.
Emerging Leaders in Mobile Imaging Applications
Innovative companies recognize that medical imaging is moving away from expensive, stationary systems to more remote, accessible devices. These advances ensure that mobile imagining applications from recognized industry leaders will continue to offer enhanced features, lower cost and greater flexibility.
- image 32: The image32 mobile viewer offers many of the same features as the desktop version, including mobile x-rays, mobile MRI and mobile CT scans. The app supports LiveConsult, which is an interactive component designed for real-time consultations with patients and colleagues.
- Mobile MIM: A medical imaging and diagnostic app developed for the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. It provides almost instant access to X-rays and ultrasound images with reduced image distribution delays. The app encourages physician-patient interaction and eliminates the need for costly and inconvenient CDs.
- Vue Motion: Utilizes a web browser or EMR portal to provide detailed imaging data through an iPad. The system requires no software download and supports side-by-side image display and synchronization to prior images. The viewer includes advanced imaging tools such as historical timelines, zoom feature, line measurements and optimized image review.
The Future of Mobile Medical Imaging
A major impediment to the full implementation of mobile imaging revolves around the hardware limitations of the current generation of tablets. Even with its enhanced retina display, the iPad lacks the resolution required to meet professional imaging standards. However, as the technology continues to improve, future mobile imaging applications and devices will include enhanced resolution, videoconferencing facilities and one-touch access to images, labs and clinical notes.