Football_playerSeveral sports medicine providers are leading the charge in utilizing cloud-based imaging solutions, especially on the football field. UHZ Sports Medicine, a large orthopedic group located in Miami, is one such institution.

As the official sports medicine provider for the Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Miami Dolphins, UHZ and its team of board-certified healthcare professionals pride themselves on maintaining a leadership role in sports medicine advancements. By adopting DICOM Grid’s cutting edge technology for digital image management, they are redefining how they share access to players’ imaging exams.

According to Morris Panner, CEO of DICOM Grid, providing care to professional sports teams requires travel, and UHZ needed an easy way to view images remotely and collaborate with other physicians and trainers. In the past, the technology they were utilizing for accessing and sharing imaging exams was keeping physicians from treating athletes as quickly as possible. Physicians who were not traveling with the teams had trouble viewing MRIs or x-rays of players who were injured, at times delaying decisions from being made.

DICOM Grid is a global cloud platform for medical imaging information and applications. Its patented data security transforms medical imaging information into a dynamic data warehouse where open web services provide universal access to clinically rich data. Physicians can safely and easily deploy cloud applications for medical imaging collaboration, exchange, vendor neutral archive, business continuity, EMR integration, bio-informatics, and more.

UHZ made the move to DICOM Grid in order to embrace a more collaborative approach to image management. With five offices spread across the Miami area, the physicians needed to be able to connect with each other and exchange medical images no matter where they were located. They also needed to have easy access to prior exams. Before implementing DICOM Grid in 2014, UHZ used CDs as a method of exchanging and storing images, and VPNs, which were limited and caused numerous headaches.

“We used to have a room full of boxes of CDs,” said Gautam Yagnik, MD, team physician and orthopedic surgeon at UHZ Sports Medicine. “It would take someone a half hour to find what they needed.” Using CDs spawned a lot of frustration between patients and doctors because sometimes the disc was lost. Patients claimed that we had it or they thought their previous doctor would deliver it to us.

DICOM Grid’s remote, anywhere access allows physicians to view images if they’re at home or out of town traveling with the teams. It is easy to exchange images across locations. Long-term cloud archiving provides a place for images to be conveniently stored and accessed.

“If I’m home, on-call, or if I’m out of town, which I frequently am, I can just look at those images via DICOM Grid,” said Yagnik. “I can look at images on a tablet or I can look at them on a regular computer. Mobile viewing is huge because otherwise I have to carry a laptop around and log in via a VPN connection.”

With DICOM Grid, UHZ is able to centralize its imaging data and consolidate access through one convenient portal. Some of the key features and benefits include:

  • Cost-effective long-term storage
    • Instant uploading and viewing exams on CDs
    • Seamless web-based sharing across providers and with patients
    • Centralized access to imaging through online portal
    • Zero-footprint viewer for mobile and browser-based viewing

DICOM Grid facilitates image sharing in real time between the team and physicians and provides access to medical images. “The trainer has DICOM Grid set up on his computer, and after the player gets an MRI, the trainer uploads the exam to DICOM Grid. That same day, from miles away, we can access and view it and make a clinical decision based on that information,” said Yagnik.

One possible limitation is Internet connectivity. If Internet outages are a concern, organizations have the option of using local-cache storage on-site to store copies of recent images. Even during loss of connectivity, users will still be able to access exams through the local cache. Business-grade Internet is very reliable and affordable these days. If organizations want to be extra cautious, they can always bring in another line for redundancy. DICOM Grid’s mobile applications are optimized for low-bandwidth environments.

In addition, DICOM Grid’s zero-footprint, HTML5 viewer puts medical imaging right at the physician’s fingertips, while real-time sharing makes it easy to upload and send exams securely over the Internet. UHZ’s care team utilizes DICOM Grid’s simple-to-use viewing tools for annotating, including hanging protocols, window level, measurements, and more. “It’s really convenient to pull up the MRI or x-ray on my iPad,” said Yagnik.