eMix, which stands for Electronic Medical Information Exchange, is a cloud computing-based technology for secure sharing of medical imaging studies and reports between disparate healthcare facilities and physicians. eMix was developed to address a challenge in medical imaging: How to exchange medical imaging data between proprietary information technology (IT) systems that do not "talk to each other", The service also provides an alternative to legacy solutions typically used for sharing medical imaging data. Examples of such legacy methods include:
- Virtual private networks
- Burning and mailing CDs
- Printing and mailing film, and
- Faxing reports.
Cloud-based services are likely to help facilitate the trend toward universal access to medical imaging and other electronic medical information. For example, members of health information exchanges (HIEs) can use a service such as eMix to share radiology data even when those members have mutually incompatible IT systems. The service also makes it possible for a healthcare institution to include radiology data obtained from out-of-network facilities or physicians in the institution's PACS, radiology information system (RIS), healthcare information system (HIS), or electronic medical record (EMR). Finally, it is a logical system for patients to use when adding medical imaging information to their personal health record (PHR).
A potential advantage of using a cloud-based system is affordability. Healthcare institutions, physician offices, and patients need no special infrastracture to use such a system—they only need a computer connected via broadband to the Internet. They don't need to acquire special hardware or software, and can pay for the service on a subscription basis, much like phone service.
The cloud-based service is a business venture of DR Systems, an independent provider of enterprise imaging and information management systems for hospitals, integrated healthcare networks and diagnostic imaging centers, eMix debuted in beta phase in late 2009. During this period, it was successfully tested by three medical facilities in Montana on behalf of Image Movement of Montana, an organization of 30 medical institutions in Montana that formed to seek more efficient ways of sharing medical imaging data, The three IMOM members implemented eMix on a clinical basis in December 2009, becoming the first facilities in the nation to exchange data with the system, Other IMOM facilities have since tested and implemented eMix, as well. eMix was launched as a commercially available product in early 2010. Besides the IMOM facilities, eMix is currently being used by healthcare providers in Florida, California, Texas, Washington, Alaska, Tennessee, Arkansas, and South Dakota. European eMix service is scheduled to debut in European countries in the Fall of 2010.
DR System's Chairman of the Board is Murray Reicher, M.D., a board-certified diagnostic radiologist and company co-founder. The company's President and Chief Executive Officer is Richard Porritt. The General Manager for eMix is Florent Saint-Clair.
Workflow using eMix takes place as follows:
- The sender selects the exam and other desired documents to send from a worklist of electronically stored radiology files and uploads the "package" to eMix.
- The sender then selects a recipient from a list of authorized users (user authorization and authentication preserve privacy and confidentiality and strengthen compliance with HIPAA provisions).
- eMix sends a notification email to the recipient, who can then log in and click on links to the package to preview the images and reports, or download and view the DICOM image exam and related reports documents using a free DICOM viewer.
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