Patients React to Internet-based Image Sharing

January 29, 2016

Online imaging sharing allows for easy access of imaging tests, but is it less secure?

Internet-based imaging-sharing systems are superior to CDs in allowing access to imaging exams, without endangering privacy, according to a study published in Academic Radiology.

Researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in New York, NY, University of California in San Francisco (UCSF), Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, evaluated the implementation of the first Internet-based image-sharing system to determine patient ownership, control, and satisfaction with the system.

A total of 2,562 patients who had received any medical imaging test in one of four participating academic centers were invited to participate in the study. The most common tests were plain X-rays (34.7%), followed by CT (25.7%), and MRI (16.1%). They were given the option of uploading the images to an online personal health record instead of using CDs. The patients were asked to complete satisfaction surveys that asked about ease of use, privacy, security, and timeliness of image access. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_crop","fid":"45412","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image media-image-right","id":"media_crop_7240854148956","media_crop_h":"0","media_crop_image_style":"-1","media_crop_instance":"5203","media_crop_rotate":"0","media_crop_scale_h":"0","media_crop_scale_w":"0","media_crop_w":"0","media_crop_x":"0","media_crop_y":"0","style":"height: 136px; width: 170px; border-width: 0px; border-style: solid; margin: 1px; float: right;","title":"©Sergey Nivens/Shutterstock.com","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]]

Four hundred and forty-eight of the 502 respondents indicated which method they had chosen, either Internet-based sharing, CD, or both. The majority of patients (96.5%) said they liked having direct access to their images. The researchers found no difference between the storage methods when patients were asked about security and privacy concerns, or about timeliness of access. A total of 78% of the patients accessed their photos, but a greater number of those who used the Internet-based system reported having fewer access problems.

“A patient-directed, interoperable, Internet-based image-sharing system is feasible and surpasses the use of CDs with respect to accessibility of imaging exams while generating similar satisfaction with respect to privacy,” the researchers concluded.