UCSF Radiology & Image Share: Giving Patients Control & Reducing Repeat Scans

Imagine you go to the hospital experiencing unusual symptoms. Your radiologist appears confident with the diagnosis but you’d feel safer getting a second opinion—a common occurrence in the health care industry. To get a different opinion may require a second scan.  If you’ve already been scanned for an MRI, ultrasound or CT scan, additional scans mean added costs and extra potentially harmful doses of radiation. Not anymore.

UCSF is one of the first hospitals to take part in the Image Share program, an image-exchange service that eliminates the hassle of transferring images in order to get a second opinion, consult a specialist or change hospitals/ doctors. Before Image Share, patients would receive physical copies of images on a compact disc, which could potentially be lost, broken or, sometimes, loaded with the wrong images. Additionally, many hospitals and physicians were sold incompatible equipment—meaning the images could not be viewed at all.

Image Share, run by the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), is an electronic information exchange which connects the UCSF Radiology department with radiologists from other pilot sites including Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Within minutes, patients can receive information regarding a specific scan from physicians across the country. According to David Mendelson, principal investigator for Image Share, “this is all about giving patients control of their health information and engaging them in their own care.”

At UCSF over 1,000 patients have enrolled since June of 2012. A significant majority of both patients and physicians have reported satisfaction with their experience using the Image Share Network. Furthermore, nearly 90 percent of patients and radiologists surveyed were comfortable with the privacy and security of the system.

The Image Share program continues to expand. Around 20 hospitals and radiology groups with multiple facilities are in plans to join the network. The more that join, the more resources patients will have at their fingertips. The Image Share program will continue to empower patients, reduce costs and eliminate additional and unnecessary scans.

Looking for more information about Image Share? Please click here for FAQs.

To learn more about the UCSF Image Share experience, please see this presentation.