December 6, 2011 – Heart IT, which pioneered the first U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved zero-footprint medical imaging workstation, and Johns Hopkins Medicine, announced the award of a National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to enable the inclusion of medical images in the Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN). The NHIN is a federal initiative of the National Office of the Coordinator for Health Information Technology.
NHIN is being developed to provide a secure, nationwide, interoperable health information infrastructure that will connect providers, consumers and others involved in supporting healthcare. This critical part of the national health agenda will enable health information to follow the consumer, be available for clinical decision-making and support appropriate use of healthcare information beyond direct patient care to improve health.
An ideal use of NHIN is the inclusion of medical images. According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), 75 percent of all imaging procedures are performed outside of hospitals where picture archive and communications systems (PACS) systems are practically non-existent. The smaller healthcare providers are simply not able to afford a PACS solution. Cost is the top barrier to adopt health information technology. However, the NHIN requires a PACS to share medical images. This implies that the most medical images – 75 percent of them –– will not be available. Therefore, it is clear that a cost-effective imaging solution is paramount as it can provide PACS capabilities to smaller providers that cannot afford it.
Heart IT has developed WebPAX, a unique product that offers PACS capability via a "Software-as-a-Service" (SaaS) model through Web 2.0 technologies that allow any Internet Web browser to function as a medical imaging workstation without the need to install client software. This technology includes zoom/pan, movie controls, distance measurements and regions of interest. Heart IT has proposed this technology as a SaaS PACS for smaller providers in order to enable them to share and access images via the NHIN. To this end, Heart IT received a $2.25 million NIH grant and is collaborating with Johns Hopkins Medicine and its member hospitals to develop a prototype of this technology and demonstrate its value and capabilities within NHIN.
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