An essential aspect of participatory medicine – and Federal meaningful use criteria – is patients having a copy of their health data, so they can (a) understand it and (b) take it wherever they want. That includes radiology images.

This is not a new issue here: three years ago our Jon Lebkowsky wrote here about how internet visionary Doc Searls had a serious medical mishap, during which his ability to make a crucial decision was impaired because he couldn’t share his scans with another doctor.

Now, the Radiology Society of North America (RSNA) has begun what appears to be a real consumer-based image sharing project. From the magazine Diagnostic Imaging:

RSNA Image Share, the network designed to help patients take control of their medical images and reports, has enrolled its first patients, Radiological Society of North America officials said.

The network was designed to facilitate access to imaging exams for patients and physicians, potentially reducing unnecessary examinations, minimizing patient radiation exposure, and enabling better informed medical decisions.

The full article lists the five hospitals that are participating in the project.

Separate from this, I know of at least three systems that already let you upload your images –

Anybody know of any others? Comment below. Any personal experiences?

A personal note:

My own hospital gives me – free – a CD of any radiology image I want. That’s awesome. BUT, it’s not the full resolution in their system, and the software they provide is pretty stinky: it looks like something developed in 1997 – hard to figure out, and clunky to use when you do figure it out.

Why should the software be so out of date? Because we’ve never had the ability to (easily) use other software. I’ll predict that when we really can have our data – our families’ scans – there will be a ton of new software, to help us see the data.

A guru’s view:

Fittingly, this brings us back to Doc Searls, who for years has been advocating VRM: Vendor Relationship Management, in which the consumer (you) is in control of relationships. It’s the opposite of CRM (customer relationship management), in which the vendor calls the shots. You can see why, after his encounter, he wrote about the patient as the point of integration for the data.

A glimpse of the new ecosystem

Personally, I can almost taste it. It’s not here yet, but as a lot of data starts to become free – when there are 100,000 consumers who want better software – developers will find a market for good software, and doctors will have a competitive reason to use it. For the first time a real consumer-based ecosystem will start to arise, and the business of healthcare will veer toward the patient. And that’s a good thing.