The acquisition and management of images are not free from challenges, especially when a visible light application is involved. Below, we'll evaluate some common problems, and solutions, presented by visible light applications and enterprise imaging.
Image compression may be needed to reduce transmission time, initial response time, or simply reduce file size. Unfortunately, there is often a trade-off between image quality and file size/compression. Lossless compression retains the integrity of an image while taking up a lot of storage, while lossy compression, also known as irreversible compression, visibly reduces the quality of an image.
With certain applications, an operator may not even have the choice of format and parameters that can affect image quality. Moreover, many standard video compression schemes inherently constrain matrix size, aspect ratio, and other parameters by defining profiles. Thus, the compression of photo and video files often brings about other undesired effects.
Generally, it is best to use a standard compression scheme already encoded in a standard container format, rather than uncommon or proprietary methods. Using nonstandard methods compromises interoperability and raises the risk of software not being available in the future.
Smartphones, tablets, and SLR cameras can all be used for the inexpensive capture of photos and videos. Despite being affordable and easy to use, many of these devices have features that can interfere with medical image acquisition requirements.
When using consumer devices, there are a few important considerations can help you maintain quality and compliance with requirements, such as:
- Disabling the auto white balance so the camera does not instinctively change/adapt the image.
- Use flash to enhance color balance and reduce glare to not tarnish the image.
- Disable red-eye reduction/correction and blemish removal, to again keep the camera from removing important blemishes used in the examination.
- Make sure that any “hot light” or examination lamp in use is the same color/temperature as the room lighting.
- Double check that the file formats are able to be stored.
Another helpful tip is to create a checklist for every device and the intended room’s lighting to make it easier on your staff to stay within the requirements.
Some healthcare enterprises are equipped with a medical photography department providing access to experts in photographic technique and relevant anatomical and procedural information. Some enterprises also have dedicated medical photography sections for individual disciplines.
“The history of medical photography long predates the availability of digital cameras . Professional medical photographers need expertise not only in photographic technique but also the relevant anatomical and procedural information .” - Example from Technical Challenges of Enterprise Imaging White Paper
Different photographic techniques can make the difference between an image which is usable for follow-up care and one which can serve to provide significant visual evidence. In the realm of medical photography, it is important to consider/prioritize the following: proper exposure; correct white balance, lighting, and flash; light diffusion techniques to eliminate glare, and measurement of the object in the photo for reference.
Dermatology is the largest user of photo/visible light in healthcare. Dermatology images are used to examine skin conditions over time, such as visuals for patient discussion, remote review, or teaching and research. Standard devices for dermatology imaging are digital cameras or microscopes with digital image output, while dermatoscopes and systems for whole body integumentary photography offer a more specific approach.
Although images are great for identifying information and anatomic landmarks, imaging does not easily facilitate indexing for retrieval, and it can present issues when de-identification is necessary.
Using a PACS gives providers the ability to properly index and retrieve medical images within one system. While these technologies have been around for a few decades, advancements in PACS allow providers to simplify their workflow.
Today, endoscopy videos can be digitally stored. However, departmental medical record systems may or may not support capture and archival of images and video. Multiple concerns surround the recording of endoscopy videos, such as determining the start and end of the video, or the need to detect and associate video segments with specific events.
“The importance of integration with enterprise systems to assure correct patient identification is recognized. Medical record systems may not support capturing or archiving images and video.” - Example from Technical Challenges of Enterprise Imaging White Paper
PACS have been developed for the storage and retrieval of endoscopy media, enterprise imaging presents a unique storage opportunity which recognizes the need for a system that assures correct patient identification. If you are unsure if your PACS is supported, feel free to reach out to ImageMoverMD for more information.
Your enterprise imaging strategy should be designed to manage all forms of multimedia for clinical enterprises. While many forms of visible light imaging present unique challenges, improvement strategies are being developed every day.
The goal of any healthcare corporation is to provide the best, most efficient care, and your enterprise imaging strategy should be designed to help achieve that goal. ImageMoverMD can help simplify the process of categorizing and transferring all forms of images, from those taken on a smartphone to outside medical pictures and point of care images. Connect with ImageMoverMD experts to help resolve imaging challenges and streamline your workflow efficiency.