Thursday, 5 September 2019

X-rays and data access

Data sharing in the real world isn't always all it's supposed to be.

This is a slightly complicated story, but bear with it.

J had some surgery eight or nine years ago to fix a sports injury caused by years of cross country ski-ing. She had it checked by a local specialist in Albury - our nearest big town - just after we moved from Canberra three years ago to make sure it was holding up.

At the time everything was fine, but recently she's been having a bit of pain, so back we went to the Albury sports injuries guy.

Turned out he was moving overseas, like at the end of next week.

So very sensibly he said that even if we got the requisite scans done before he left - diagnostic imaging is outsourced to specialist companies in Australia - he wouldn't have time to do anything about it.

So, what he did was to refer J back to the original Canberra surgeon for him to take a look at it.

Which seem a big deal, but it's only five hours up the freeway, and anyway we're going there next month for a family thing, so it was simple to extend our stay and book in to see the surgeon.

That was when the fun started.

The Canberra guy still had his original notes, and the sports injuries guy was going to send him his notes, but he didn't have copies of the scans.

Medical imaging has gone all electronic and copies of the scans are usually archived by the medical imaging company. If a doctor needs to see them again, he requests an archive retrieval. There's none of the business of carrying X-ray films about any more.

I'm guessing that they're held in some nearline or offline storage.

Now, remember what I said about medical imaging being outsourced.

It turns out that the company in Albury uses a different system to the Canberra imaging companies, and there was no way that the doctor in Canberra could access the archive.

Logically you would think that the Albury guy could pull the file and send it to Canberra, but he's not set up - dropbox for doctors isn't a thing apparently.

Now at the time J had her earlier scan the Albury imaging company had sent us a link so we could download a copy of the image file. Being lazy, we hadn't, after all J's doctor could always request a copy.

So we called the imaging company, who understood the problem and were super helpful.

Their solution was to burn the image to a dvd for us to take to Canberra 😖. (Remember this is late 2019, not 2012)

I'm hoping that the hospital in Canberra still has computers with DVD drives, but just in case, when we get the disk from the imaging company, I'm going to use J's old 2012 vintage laptop which fortunately still has a working dvd-rw drive to copy the image files to a USB stick, as well as saving them to the cloud...