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Avoiding Misdiagnoses with New IT and Modern Imaging

In the US, one in every 20 patients is misdiagnosed resulting in injuries, treatment delays, unnecessary expenses, and sometimes — death. Patients most frequently suffer these outcomes due to incomplete medical histories, incorrect diagnostic orders and misinterpreted test results.

Healthcare Imaging

Researchers estimate that between 80,000 and 160,000 misdiagnoses occur each year. However, improvements in technologies such as computer assisted computed tomography (CT) angiographies, real-time ultra sounds, three-dimensional imaging and Positron Emission Topographies (PETs) may reduce these occurrences. Furthermore, medical imaging informatics (MII) promises to provide practitioners with greatly enhanced analysis capabilities. These and other innovations, such as the following technology examples, help care providers identify ailments quickly and accurately.

Vein Location Imaging

Sometimes, even experienced phlebotomists can have trouble locating a suitable vein and must subject patients to multiple sticks to complete a diagnostic. [1] This occurrence causes discomfort and proves detrimental during an emergency.

To assist medical professionals with this procedure, Christie Medical Holdings distributes the VeinViewer, an imaging device that makes vein location easier. The device projects vein images directly on the skin of patients in real time. Medical technology analysts suggest the device offers utility in many settings, such as:

  • Blood drive centers
  • Chemotherapy clinics
  • Hospitals
  • Outpatient laboratories

Practitioners can also view images generated by the device remotely, making VeinViewer a practical tool for accurately monitoring patient conditions both on-site and off.

Online Image and Document Management

Recently, Agfa HealthCare granted online access to patients and providers for Enterprise Imaging, a highly regarded platform among medical professionals. [2] The technology consolidates access to enterprise-wide information, while leaving the original data housed on disparate computers. However, the information is provided through a single portal on user demand. Agfa HealthCare provides the imaging suite as a legacy addition or a stand-alone solution.

Care providers use this platform to manage diagnostic images, lab results, pharmacy information and patient notes — viewing information and granting consumer access as needed. The technology also permits patients to complete documentation and upload images, reducing registration and check-in times.

Magnetic Resonance Implants

The Phillips technology firm has introduced ScanWise Implant, a software program that sets magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) parameters, enabling care providers to safely scan patients with implants. The program adjusts MRI settings to specifications established by manufacturers of implants such as knee replacements and pacemakers.

The software simplifies the MRI examinations of implant recipients, improves workflow and increases the certainty of imaging operators. ScanWise Imaging will assist care providers in making accurate diagnoses, which typically presents a challenge when evaluating patients with prosthetic implants.

The Five-Minute MRI

Brain scans comprise nearly 25 percent of all MRIs. In 2016 alone, analysts forecast the demand for brain scans to be nearly 50 million procedures. GoBrain, an MRI application developed by Siemens Healthineers, can greatly reduce diagnostic turnaround time and costs. The short examination can also sizably reduce the number of patients requiring rescans and sedation.

GoBrain allows care providers to generate clinically-validated data and brain analyses in under five minutes. Siemens developed the technology in partnership with Boston’s department of radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital. The high-speed MRI utilizes two proprietary Siemens technologies, high-density coils and DotGo software.

Fast Cardiac Exams

ViosWorks, a cardiac MRI solution from GE Healthcare and Arterys, condenses the time needed for full heart exams from one hour to 10 minutes. [3] The technology produces high-resolution, three-dimensional cardiac and blood flow images aligned with a time code in real time. GE boasts that ViosWorks captures data in seven dimensions, “three in space, one in time and three in velocity direction.”

The process combines several examinations, allowing practitioners to observe the heart anatomy, function and blood flow of patients. This single scanning procedure simplifies examinations and reduces errors generated by slice position MRIs. Additionally, cloud-based ArterysT dataset algorithms from GE Healthcare and Arterys can evaluate all data in real time, making a full 10-minute heart assessment attainable.

Pain Recognition Imaging

Patients and care providers already benefit from many imaging innovations that have emerged in recent years. Currently, care providers use numerically scaled patient self-assessments to evaluate pain. [2] However, this often subjective and ambiguous method leaves much open to interpretation, as each consumer naturally reports different pain levels based on their personal and independent perspectives.

To standardize pain assessments, researchers have engineered robotic human patient simulators (HPSs) that can mimic the full range of human facial expressions. In-depth understanding of human pain expressions can help care providers administer appropriate treatments.

Other researchers have created the 3D Facial Expression Database. By combining the database with HPS technology, researchers hope to use cameras to quickly and accurately determine patient pain levels.

Some promising medical innovations may appear mysterious and ahead of their time. However, care providers must remember that significant advancements can often be realized by repurposing established technologies. Currently, the imaging area promises to deliver some of the most impactful technological breakthroughs in medicine.

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