Twenty-fifth anniversary marks new direction for SCAR

June 2, 2005

The Society for Computer Applications in Radiology celebrated its quarter century milestone with a new tagline, a headquarters move, and a look into space during the opening session Thursday of its annual meeting in Orlando.

The Society for Computer Applications in Radiology celebrated its quarter century milestone with a new tagline, a headquarters move, and a look into space during the opening session Thursday of its annual meeting in Orlando.

"We have come a long way in 25 years," said SCAR chair Dr. J. Anthony Seibert.

SCAR unveiled its new tagline, "Innovating Imaging Informatics," in an effort to recognize other specialties in addition to radiology that are now touched by digital imaging technology. The growing organization is moving its Virginia headquarters to just outside the Washington Dulles International Airport, Seibert said.

He gave a brief retrospective of the society and the emergence of medical informatics from the 1980s, when film was king and personal computers were considered toys, to the present. The society now has a 24/7 Web presence and plans to develop a certification program for PACS administrators.

SCAR's predecessor, the Radiology Information System Consortium, was organized in 1980. From the beginning, its mission was the advancement of computer applications and information technology in medical imaging and research, Seibert said.

The first meeting devoted to PACS was held in 1982 in Newport, CA. In the mid-1990s, PACS became an established technology, and in 1996, RISC merged into SCAR.

SCAR developed the Transforming the Radiological Interpretation Process initiative to tackle the digital image explosion, and TRIP held its first conference in 2005. SCAR also joined the DICOM standards committee this year.

"We hope to embrace and spearhead technological advances in imaging informatics for the next 25 years and beyond," Seibert said.

The keynote address at the opening session was given by astronaut Dr. Bernard A. Harris.

Harris, a mission specialist on the shuttle Columbia STS-55/Spacelab D-2, was the first African American to walk in space. He described his current focus as medical informatics.

"The future of medicine is where information is king," he said.

During his first space mission, Harris practiced telemedicine on a galactic scale, performing medical exams on board the shuttle and then transmitting the data through telemetry back to earth.

He transferred his experience in medicine, space, and medical informatics into a venture capital firm, Vesalius Ventures, which funds the development of new technologies involved with telemedicine. He is president and founder of the Harris Foundation, which supports math and science education as well as crime prevention.

Emerging trends in telemedicine include wireless and broadband technologies, open networking architectures, distributed systems, embedded intelligence, and integrated electronic medical record systems, Harris said.

"Healthcare is moving toward minimally invasive diagnostics and therapeutics, and imaging must become more efficient and real-time," he said.