Standards Update: A new year, a broader focus

Standards Update: A new year, a broader focusBy Herman Oosterwijk, president, OTech Inc.With the new year comes an expanded format for what has been known as “DICOM Update.” Reflecting changes

Standards Update:
A new year, a broader focus

By Herman Oosterwijk, president, OTech Inc.

With the new year comes an expanded format for what has been known as “DICOM Update.” Reflecting changes in the vendor community and the increasing convergence of image and information management technologies, we are now calling this column “Standards Update.”

This year promises to be very productive for the various standard committees. Vendors are eagerly awaiting new extensions to both HL7 and DICOM. The next release of HL7, version 3.0, is expected to be finalized in the near term, with demonstrations slated to take place at the upcoming HIMSS show in Dallas. This version is a major departure from the last release; for example, all encoding of the information will be done in XML instead of ASCII and the specification will be better defined.

New extensions to DICOM will be a key part of the IHE demonstrations at this year’s RSNA and HIMSS meetings. Foremost among these extensions is structured reporting; however, the working groups are still defining the appropriate templates for ultrasound measurements, cardiology applications, CAD for mammography, and other modality-specific applications. Another long-anticipated extension is the incorporation of wavelet compression as part of the standard, which should be finalized by the JPEG 2000 standards committee by year’s end and incorporated into DICOM soon after.

The DICOM working group is also in the process of trying to settle on a single writable DVD standard. This would be particularly relevant for cardiology, where the current method for exchanging images in digital form on a CD does not accommodate the 1024 x 1024 formats.

Worklist standardization for workstations and viewing mechanisms is also expected to be added to DICOM this year. This will be important for linking workstations and archives from different vendors because it will eliminate proprietary worklist access.

Another notable addition to DICOM will be waveform standardization, which will enable EKGs, hemodynamic data, and audio data to be exchanged in DICOM format. The major advantage of having this information in the DICOM domain is that it is possible to relate these DICOM objects with images.

Encryption should also become part of the DICOM standard this year, and ongoing efforts in digital signatures to help detect when image data have been tampered with could result in an extension to the standard as well.

© 2000 Miller Freeman, Inc., a United News & Media company