Clinicians still need access to older imaging studies

Referring physicians still require the ability to access medical images older than one year, according to research from the University Medical Center Groningen in Groningen, Netherlands.

"Even data up to seven years old is still requested by physicians," said Peter Van Ooijen. He presented the research during a scientific session at the 2007 RSNA meeting in Chicago.

While earlier studies have shown that the average storage time on a PACS network should be about two years to handle the majority of image requests, the Groningen researchers sought to investigate how many older studies were requested by referring physicians after seven years of fully digital radiology operations.

The institution uses a Web1000 Web viewer (Agfa HealthCare, Mortsel, Belgium) connected to the electronic patient record system to provide image distribution to referring physicians. Access is available via Web1000 for approximately one year's worth of image storage.

The hospital also added the ability to access images older than one year, which could be requested digitally from the radiology PACS (Rogan-Delft, Veenendaal, Netherlands). All first-time requests are recorded and evaluated using a Web-based tool developed to receive and handle the study requests, Van Ooijen said. After the study is transferred to the Web server, it can then be accessed multiple times without additional requests to the PACS server.

The researchers recorded all first-time requests of imaging studies over a year old between September 1 and December 31, 2006. They then analyzed the data using Microsoft Excel, calculating the percentage per year of age compared to all requests.

Of the 3,268 requests made for image data more than a year old, 1,592 (48%) were for studies between one and two years old, Van Ooijen said. There were 711 (22%) studies requested between two and three years old, 418 (13%) for studies between three and four years old, and 188 (6%) for studies between five and six years.

Sixty-three studies (2%) between six and seven years old were also requested. The average age of all requests was 29 months, according to the researchers.

"Availability of older data is required for clinical routine, which is clearly demonstrated by the number of requests," Van Ooijen said.

By Erik L. Ridley staff writers
December 10, 2007

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Copyright © 2007

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