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Imaging informatics


Imaging informatics is a relatively new area of medical physics.  It includes the digital aspects of the medical imaging department, all aspects of digital imaging, network architecture and topology, network infrastructure, integration, connectivity, and security.  In addition, the medical physicist must understand DICOM and DICOM conformance, Health Level 7, and integrating the healthcare enterprise (IHE), to name just a few of the important areas of imaging informatics.

Important Principles

Today’s medical imaging department, and the institution’s medical imaging needs, is dependent on digital technology.  The medical physicist must assure that the flow of digital information relative to medical images and the display of these images are not compromised throughout the institution.

This responsibility includes not just networking of systems and image storage, but also image display.  Image display quality and viewing conditions are key to quality diagnoses.  All efforts to produce quality images using DR, CR, CT, MRI, etc. are futile if the images are viewed on low quality displays in rooms with high luminance levels, e.g., with sun coming in the room windows.

The medical physicist is the person at the institution that has an understanding of the needs of medical imaging colleagues as well as the communications technology.  Consequently, the physicist must be part of any institutional decision regarding transmission and display of medical images.  In addition, the physicist must also participate in decisions regarding the application of hospital and radiology information systems in the medical imaging department, and interfaces with the picture archiving and communications system (PACS).

Introduction to References

The following Essential References provide good insight into medical informatics.  In addition, many references are available on the internet.  Search terms such as “Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise”, “DICOM”, or “Health Level 7” will provide other sources.  The Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine (SIIM) website (supplemental references) provides excellent information regarding standards, professional activities, and meetings.