Teleradiology dashboard allows online availability check of network components

November 21, 2007

As the popularity and efficiency of teleradiology grow, so does the demand for network reliability. Some teleradiology systems at smaller hospitals, however, are used only at night and on weekends, leaving malfunctions undetected until an emergency transmission fails.

As the popularity and efficiency of teleradiology grow, so does the demand for network reliability. Some teleradiology systems at smaller hospitals, however, are used only at night and on weekends, leaving malfunctions undetected until an emergency transmission fails.

German researchers have found a way to perform availability checks on all installed emergency teleradiology clients and servers over a regional network.

"The success of our vendor-neutral method is demonstrated by two years of use with more than 30 components from eight different manufacturers in 15 hospitals and in nine other regional participants," said Dr. Gerald Weisser of the clinical radiology department at University Hospital Mannheim.

The Uptime-server concept provides automated prospective failure detection for DICOM e-mail teleradiology installations.

"Despite the fact the Uptime-server only detects system failures, this can be termed 'prospective' because malfunctions are identified before systems begin a teleradiology transfer," Weisser said.

The system performs automated component availability checks on all servers and clients in the network, monitors download speeds over Internet connections, and evaluates line quality.

Line quality, for instance, is measured daily for regular client mailboxes and hourly for mailboxes with suspected line problems. The POP3 mail server reports the size of the e-mail and the time needed for mailbox check. This information, including time stamp, is registered in the Uptime-server database, allowing calculations of line speed for each mailbox.

Line quality and other monitoring data can displayed by the Uptime-server graphical user interface, designed for use by the system administrator and other interested users.

With the graphical interface, end users can check reason for system failures at their own end and at other participating facilities without needing the help of a local system administrator or external hotline. This allows users to identify bottlenecks or failed components in less than two minutes, giving them the option to retransmit images using a different mail server or different destination, Weisser said.

The Uptime-server also checks availability of teleradiology clients inside hospitals, although if additional in-house components such as PACS are required for the teleradiology system to display received images, then malfunctions of these components cannot be detected, Weisser said.

The automated procedure can be used only in the process of receiving images, since vendor-specific, local software add-ons would be required to automate the sending process within a teleradiology client, Weisser said.

"Nevertheless, the majority of components for sending and receiving are identical, so most malfunctions can be detected using the Uptime-server method," he said.

The Uptime-server software, documented in the Journal of Digital Imaging, is available free online (2007;20(4):393-401).