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Imaging informatics, also known as radiology informatics or medical imaging informatics, is a subspecialty of biomedical informatics that aims to improve the efficiency, accuracy, usability and reliability of medical imaging services within the healthcare enterprise. It is devoted to the study of how information about and contained within medical images is retrieved, analyzed, enhanced, and exchanged throughout the medical enterprise.
As radiology is an inherently data-intensive and technology-driven specialty of medicine, radiologists have become leaders in Imaging Informatics. However, with the proliferation of digitized images across the practice of medicine to include fields such as cardiology, ophthalmology, dermatology, surgery, gastroenterology, obstetrics, gynecology and pathology, the advances in Imaging Informatics are also being tested and applied in other areas of medicine. Various industry players and vendors involved with medical imaging, along with IT experts and other biomedical informatics professionals, are contributing and getting involved in this expanding field.
Imaging informatics exists at the intersection of several broad fields:
- biological science – includes bench sciences such as biochemistry, microbiology, physiology and genetics
- clinical services – includes the practice of medicine, bedside research, including outcomes and cost-effectiveness studies, and public health policy
- information science – deals with the acquisition, retrieval, cataloging, and archiving of information
- medical physics / biomedical engineering – entails the use of equipment and technology for a medical purpose
- cognitive science – studying human computer interactions, usability, and information visualization
- computer science – studying the use of computer algorithms for applications such as computer assisted diagnosis and computer vision
Areas of interest
Key areas relevant to Imaging informatics include:
- Picture archiving and communication system (PACS) and component systems
- Imaging informatics for the enterprise
- Image-enabled electronic medical records
- Radiology Information Systems (RIS) and Hospital Information Systems (HIS)
- Digital image acquisition
- Image processing and enhancement
- Image data compression
- 3D visualization and multimedia
- Speech recognition
- Computer-aided diagnosis (CAD).
- Imaging facilities design
- Imaging vocabularies and ontologies
- Data mining from medical images databases
- Transforming the Radiological Interpretation Process (TRIP)
- DICOM, HL7, FHIR and other standards
- Workflow and process modeling and process simulation
- Quality assurance
- Archive integrity and security
- Radiology informatics education
- Digital imaging
Radiologists who wish to pursue sub-specialty training in this field can undergo fellowship training in imaging informatics. Medical Imaging Informatics Fellowships are done after completion of Board Certification in Diagnostic Radiology, and may be pursued concurrently with other sub-specialty radiology fellowships.
The American Board of Imaging Informatics (ABII) also administers a certification examination for Imaging Informatics Professionals. PARCA (PACS Administrators Registry and Certification Association) certifications also exist for imaging informatics professionals.