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Image Exchange Checklist: 5 Features of an Intelligent DICOM RouterEveryone in healthcare, including PACS administrators and the imaging department, has a vital role in helping your organization achieve the healthcare quadruple aim.

Today’s DICOM routers need to do much more than transport an image from point A to point B. They allow for easy access to life-saving information that enables the physicians and clinicians in your enterprise to diagnose and treat patients more effectively. 

Outdated routing technology that strains your bandwidth and results in network congestion and image exchange failures makes it harder for physicians to do their job effectively and ultimately impacts the patient care delivered at your facility. 

Upgrading to an intelligent DICOM router modernizes your technology while enabling your imaging department to serve those who depend on access to critical imaging files and reports. 

As your department seeks to address current and future challenges in enterprise image exchange, I’ve put together this checklist of the five most important features to evaluate when selecting an intelligent DICOM router.  

1. Smart DICOM Load Balancing

Smart DICOM load balancing ensures your network is running as efficiently as possible. Advanced algorithms evaluate traffic flow in real-time and automatically make adjustments to avoid network congestion.

Avoid network failures and time-consuming traffic jams with this mission-critical feature. Smart DICOM load balancing not only ensures files get from point A to point B as quickly as possible but also eases the strain on your network infrastructure across the enterprise. 

2. Federated DICOM Query/Retrieve (FDQR)

One way to effectively deal with large files is to take a federated approach to image storage. In a federated system, files are stored locally and registered in a central registry accessible across the enterprise. An intelligent DICOM router queries the central registry to identify the correct image files before retrieval and download. 

If your current router isn’t using Federated DICOM Query Retrieve for image exchange, you’re placing undue strain on your network. 

3. Unlimited Sources and Destinations

Many of today’s routers are limited by the amount of imaging data they can exchange. A cloud-based image management solution supports unlimited imaging sources and destinations across multiple platforms.

Without this feature, your PACS team likely spends extra time and money mapping complex traffic flows, increasing the likelihood of added congestion, or even worse, making decisions about which imaging source is more important to exchange with than others in your network. 

4. Image Compression Management

One of the challenges your department is likely already tackling is that of image compression. 

The physicians in your enterprise need access to the highest quality image to deliver the best patient care. Image files that lose data or exhibit artifacts for the sole purpose of making image exchange easier can significantly hinder your clinical team’s ability to diagnose and treat patients efficiently. 

As imaging technology advances lead to ever-larger file sizes, coupled with the increased demand for images across the enterprise, diagnostically acceptable image compression is an enduring technical issue for today’s complex imaging environments. 

Your next DICOM router must be able to quickly and efficiently exchange the highest-quality images. 

5. Configuration and Set-Up

Across healthcare, departments are being asked to do more with fewer resources, all while improving patient outcomes. Your imaging department doesn’t have the time or resources to spend on complicated router configurations, mapping, and set-up. 

A user-friendly interface that walks you through identifying the imaging device source and where you want the image(s) sent is a must-have in today’s complex imaging environment.  

Evaluating an Intelligent DICOM Router

Your clinical teams depend on 24/7/365 access to image files and reports. Use this checklist to evaluate an intelligent DICOM router’s five most important features to ensure your PACS team delivers. 

Ready to mobilize imaging exchange at your facility? Contact us today to discuss how an intelligent DICOM router can be the first step to overcoming challenges at every stage of the imaging lifecycle. 

Beau Jones

Beau is the President and CEO of DataFirst with more than 22 years of experience in management and leadership roles in the healthcare and information services industries. Learn more about Beau's experiences and qualifications on our Leadership page.