6 Interesting Facts about the History of Teleradiology

Teleradiology overcomes barriers such as geographic location to improve medical services. Today, with access to the internet and teleradiology solutions such as RamSoft’s medical imaging SaaS innovations like its pioneering Imaging EMR, OmegaAI, users can read from anywhere, enabling patients to receive care despite where they live. But the history of teleradiology spans longer than the adoption of the internet. The history of teleradiology starts with the beginning of telemedicine and begins as early as the 1930s. Although, not where you would expect:

1. The history of telemedicine starts on an ocean liner

The Queen Mary ocean liner used the ship’s marine radiotelephone for medical consultation purposes. A physician on board would transmit information to outside sources and would act as a consultant for those needing medical attention on other ships. Airport travelers were the next ones to receive care

2. Airport travelers were the next ones to receive care

Throughout the ‘60s and ‘70s, extensive research and experimentation were conducted to perfect the technique of closed circuit and broadcast television for transmitting medical images captured by x-rays; these images pertained to radiology, dermatology, and pathology. Dr Kenneth T. Bird (Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston) recorded a breakthrough when he installed an interactive television system that connected the hospital to Logan Airport, creating the ability to provide medical care to travelers.

3. Circuit television was experimented with but deemed too expensive.

Then at Walter Reed General Hospital in Washington D.C., a similar case happened, which established a link between the radiology department and the emergency room using closed circuit television. But, in those early days, the process of transmission was somewhat tedious. The technology could only share one image at a time, and this coupled with the low quality of contrast and resolution meant that the system was more of an exhibit for the hospital rather than a practical tool. Over the next few years, the poor quality and high costs of telemedicine led to its rejection by most healthcare centers.

4. Even by the early 1980s teleradiology still only used mail.

By this time, teleradiology existed in the form of physical copies of films mailed to a radiologist who would record a report onto a cassette tape, and then send it back to the originating facility for transcription into paper reports. The turnaround time on these studies was measured in days, if not weeks. Mailing reports could work for routine studies, but not for emergencies.

5. The first open standard for digital storage of medical images failed.

Then the American College of Radiology (ACR) and National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) joined forces, making 1983 a monumental year, creating an open standard for digital storage of medical images. As known as ACR/NEMA 300, this measure had problems and limitations that didn’t lead to a widespread adoption by manufacturers.

6. But would eventually become what we know as DICOM today

A second version of the standard was released referred to as ACR/NEMA V2.0 in 1988, which saw images Transmission via a dedicated 2 cable (EIA-485). And by 1993 the third edition of the standard was released to what we know as DICOM today. Support for this version of the standard network contributed to making teleradiology genuinely possible.

In 1994, the American College of Radiology (ACR) published its first standard for teleradiology. By the late 1990s, several pure teleradiology companies had formed and been finding great success.

And RamSoft was one of them. Without the innovations of the past, the world’s first Imaging EMR, OmegaAI, would not exist today. The internet and current software capabilities allow practitioners to increase access to patient care. And with its proprietary cloud-native, serverless design ideal for teleradiology, RamSoft indeed marks the next step in the history of teleradiology.


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