Thursday, April 25, 2019

Why you should attend SIIM 2019, June 26-28


One of the major issues facing healthcare imaging and informatics professionals is the lack of
transparency in communication between modalities such as CT, MRI, ultrasound, CR and others, as well as the PACS/RIS, and VNA. When images and related information such as dose information and measurements do not get across, connections are rejected, changes and updates in the information are not propagated in a timely manner or at all, most of PACS administrators are stuck in between vendors who are finger-pointing to each other about the root cause.

Many vendors lock up the access to their log files requiring a (costly) service call to get someone to look at it, which takes time, assuming they have the skills to do that. This has become the main reason why people are attending advanced training classes and why you should consider attending the annual SIIM conference this year.

Imagine that an image is rejected by the PACS or you can’t read images from a CD of a patient who is scheduled for surgery and the surgeon really needs access to the patient’s CT study. The DICOM Validator (DVTK) toolkit will validate the DICOM header and tell you what is incorrect so you can fix it with an editing tool. Imagine that your system randomly loses some of the images in a study. The Wireshark DICOM sniffer will allow you to see exactly what is happening and why images are being rejected. Imagine you have performance issues; the same Wireshark will show you exactly the timestamps of the DICOM communication protocol and application level responses. Imagine there is missing information in a modality worklist, the Mirth HL7 interface engine allows you to map it to a field that could not be recognized by the worklist provider, and also as an extra bonus will store the HL7 orders in a temporary queue, which can be restarted in case there are any hiccups. Imagine the radiology report has some formatting issues, again, Mirth will be able to solve these issues. By the way, all of these tools are free for you to use.

Given the increase in de-constructed PACS, VNA’s that are connected to multiple PACS systems, which require constant synchronization, and the proliferation of zero footprint viewers that can be launched from an EMR, integration is getting more and more challenging requiring complex skills. SIIM leadership has recognized that teaching the advanced skills on how to use these tools will fill a major need and has expanded the program for this year. There will be sessions on using them in a very hands-on manner to provide you with this advanced knowledge.

There are other reasons to attend SIIM as well, i.e. spending time with vendors to kick the tires, learn about the latest in AI, networking with your peers and to share experiences, and last but not least enjoy the great Rocky Mountains. However, all of this is in my opinion minor to acquiring the necessary skills to make sure you can support your PACS in a professional manner. 

So, this is a very good reason to attend this year, I am looking forward to seeing you in Denver at these advanced sessions!


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