Maine announces nation's first statewide medical image archive

The archive, which can hold 1.8 million images a year, will allow physicians throughout the state to share patients' medical images

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In addition to leveraging HealthInfoNet, the image archiving service prepares Maine's providers for sharing images through the Nationwide Health Information Network Direct and open source Connect HIE systems. It also supports the development of Accountable Care Organizations and other shared-risk model care delivery structures.

Amy Landry, communications manager for HealthInfoNet, said 25 of the state's 39 hospitals and 182 of its 600 private physician practices currently use the exchange. This year, another nine hospitals are expected to join in and the state hopes to have all 39 hospitals signed up by the next of next year, she said. Over the next year or two, the state plans to bring in long-term care and mental healthcare facilities.

"For patient care, it's important to see a statewide picture of your patient," Landry said.

In many states, exchanges are limited to regional agreements between affiliated hospitals and private physician practices. Like any business, hospitals can feel proprietary about their patient information and resist sharing it with other facilities.

Maine has an advantage over other states in attaining agreements between healthcare providers to share information because of its relatively small population and mainly rural demographics, Landry said.

In 2005 and 2006, when HealthInfoNet was first being developed, healthcare providers had to agree to share information, Landry said.

"In other states, exchanges in general haven't been able to get off the ground because of that complication," she said.

Rogow agreed, saying his exchange's success hinged on organizations agreeing not to compete over patient data. Now that images are in the mix, Rogow sees the same politics resurfacing in other state exchanges. "The concern has come up, 'Oh, they get to see those images as well, but that's my patient,'" he said.

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at  @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His e-mail address is

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Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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