Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Workflow management for incoming medical images in developmental health

Some updates on the MIT NextLab/global health project that I’m working on. Originally, CIDRZ and GE were supposed to be stakeholders, but due to bandwidth concerns, we’re primarily focused on the CIDRZ project and improving the workflow to diagnose and treat cervical cancer. However, having GE involved made us think about some of the more general issues that are out there, and we’re trying to build a solution that is scalable and solves a few of these.

One is that there doesn’t seem to be a good system out there that can manage image/video based workflow and take multiple inputs. As such, we’re moving towards a system that integrates workflow and the tagging, commenting and return diagnosis features. Think a Flickr like site integrated with records management that can accept incoming images a number of ways including e-mail, via mobile phone, web or USB upload. We'll try to build it so it can integrate relatively easy with existing medical record systems. Comparing it to Flickr is a bit of an oversimplification, since the application should allow for a lot of features, such as creating a queue for radiology experts in different locations to review, return a diagnosis, store medical records for future reference, etc.

We’re also exploring the possibly of using Eye-Fi or other technologies to accelerate the transfer speed and more importantly, streamline the steps necessary to transfer the data. One of the problems with existing smartphones is that they ask permission to run applications and send data. So applications that sling data back in forth in an automated manner help the process flow a lot.

We're realizing that this has the potential to scale out not just the CIDRZ model, but be re-usable for other rural health models. It's interesting to think about this in terms of being able to help millions of people. The Emerson communications team that is working with us to document the project will be posting some videos soon for anyone who is interested in learning more about the project. Any ideas or possibilities for collaboration are welcome!

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