April 28th, 2021 | Updated on December 10th, 2021
Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine, or as we know it by the acronym DICOM, is a medical standard for printing, storing, and transferring information to be used for the medical imaging category.
This comes in the form of medical records from medical equipment such as CT-Scan (Computed Tomography), X-rays, Ultra Sonography, signal recorders, and other data from equipment in the ICU.
This technology allows the connection between the scanner, server, printer, and network hardware of multiple devices into an image known as the PACS format. Currently, many hospitals and clinics use DICOM to assist in making diagnoses.
The copyright for DICOM is owned by the NEMA, the abbreviation of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association), and the DICOM Standards Committee is in charge of developing this tech. Some of the members of the committee are also NEMA members.
The DICOM standard has several functions useful in medical imaging. Hospital or clinic staff and practitioners utilize this technology to perform actions such as printing, archiving, sending, and maintaining data and images to facilitate digital imaging work.
This solution also produces high-resolution images that are useful for displaying diagnosis and processing data/information appropriately. ’
The sub-categories in the medical niche that uses medical imaging technology must be familiar with these standards. That includes the cardiology, radiology category, dentistry, and more.
This set of standards dictates the authorized users who can be practitioners or medical staff to process the images from different tools and equipment.
Medical imaging is usually a non-invasive process, where we can examine the body without opening or performing any surgical procedures on the patient’s body.
This non-invasive technique is usually performed outside the patient’s body. That means the doctors or medical personnel carry out examinations or scans from outside the patient’s body and do not insert examination instruments into the patient’s body.
This non-invasive imaging technique is imperative for assisting medical professionals in making visual pictures of the inside of the human body.
Visual depiction of the body is usually required to examine hidden areas under the skin, such as muscles and other internal systems.
This set of tech allows the operators to check the information in the form of charts and images. These pixels can be combined with the textual information so that professionals can take the references from it.
The Importance of DICOM
So, what is DICOM in healthcare? And how important is it? Various health care professionals from across the globe utilize DICOM for medical imaging.
Starting from printing images, storing, sending, to linking pictures with databases, from one device to another. This allows users to combine a series of images from different sources and then link them to related patient data in one format, avoiding misinterpretations when the data has been delivered to other systems.
This solution makes it simpler for medical professionals to fetch the records and pictures so they can make an accurate diagnosis and decide on the right treatment.
DICOM also has an important function in linking files and pictures from different technologies. Usually, it will be difficult to combine data and photos because you still have to integrate different pixel formats.
However, now everything is easier thanks to these regulations so that patients can get more efficient treatment. Here are some of the sensible reasons why DICOM plays such an important role in many healthcare premises.
1. It focuses on the right standards and does not violate the rules in the medical world. NEMA has designed a set of regulations to support practitioners and professionals in planning patient care processes, such as applying the appropriate dosage and medication for therapy.
So far, this set of standards have always worked aligned to the law and quality by using MPPS services. That allows the tech to trace and capture images and can calculate data to ensure the actions are compliant with the rules.
2. These standards assist medical professionals in diagnosing patients with accuracy. Traditional envisioning standards before the tech, such as TIFF and JPEG, are unable to come out with accurate information.
Finally, it is challenging for specialists and doctors to diagnose their patient’s diseases and propose appropriate treatment procedures. This can help the staff professionals to collect visuals and data that include accurate information about patients.
3. DICOM Can assist medical personnel in determining a consistent and accurate workflow. The rules of the standard can also help paramedics decide the optimal schedule and timeline of treatments for patients. As well as provide precise reports on their workflow.
4. DICOM has an administration function that can ensure that users can save images separately from the acquisition tool.
Apart from that, users can also fetch new visuals using different methods. The MPPS in the particular standards serves to collect data about consumables such as films, funds, and equipment.
Therefore, users can take advantage of MPPS in inventory systems and billing automation. The user can also use the system to preview and check for file updates.
5. DICOM provides more accurate medical data. This standard uses the right protocols that allow users to obtain information via MPPS messages so that they can make precise diagnoses. Users can also use the MPPS function to block or change procedures.
The Downside of DICOM
There are advantages and disadvantages of this set of standards. The following are some of the deficiencies of the DICOM system that you should be aware of:
- One of the drawbacks of DICOM is the amount of possible optional fields. Users can add up to more than 2000 attributes to a single file. Even if there is one tiny mistake, it can trigger the likelihood of errors if users do not enter consistent, complete, and accurate data.
- It has a standard display of grayscale that functions to determine the lighting or other characteristics to produce high-quality pictures. However, amplitude ranges may occur, causing poor image quality. This amplitude range usually occurs when displaying an image obtained from vendor A’s device using another vendor’s device. To avoid the amplitude ranges, the user needs to manually adjust the parameters of the tools from two different resources.
- This set of tech standards may be invisible to cyber-attacks. Some researchers claimed that it has bug or error slits that can be used by the crackers to tamper with the information. The bug allows hackers to hide dangerous viruses in medical files, and it can spread to other parts of the system. Users can reduce the risk of hacking the system by using antivirus or other security software.
Despite its shortcomings, DICOM remains the best breakthrough in health care. This standard, which includes specifications for managing various types of data and images, provides valuable assistance.
Files that use the DICOM standard can also include information about a series of images, profiles, and other related information. DICOM is also proven to reduce errors that may occur due to inconsistent data input.