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CT scans, MRIs coming to docs' mobile devices
February 4th, 2011
05:49 PM ET

CT scans, MRIs coming to docs' mobile devices

The Food and Drug Administration approved a new mobile application that will allow doctors to look at medical images on their iPhones, iPads and the iPod Touch, the agency announced Friday.

Doctors will now be able to view images remotely from a number of machines including computed tomography (CT scans), magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs) and positron emission tomography–better known as PET scans, and make a diagnosis. The new app, called the Mobile MIM, is the first to be cleared by the FDA for use with mobile devices.

"This important mobile technology provides physicians with the ability to immediately view images and make diagnoses without having to be back at the workstation or wait for film," said Dr. William Maisel, chief scientist and deputy director for science in the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health.

The new technology was developed by MIM Software, Inc., a medical imaging software company that provides software for radiologists and oncologists. "Establishing a diagnostic protocol for medical imaging is no simple matter for a device like the iPhone or iPad," said Mark Cain, Chief Technology Officer, MIM Software, Inc. "It is critical to understand the characteristics of the device and to establish methods and tools that are safe and effective, while working within those constraints. There has been a gap in the market for a remote imaging device like this, and now it can be filled."

Mobile MIM will not replace workstations in doctor's offices, hospitals, or clinics, and, more than likely, will be used only when doctors don't have access to their workspace. Cain says they chose Apple because its mobile operating system has huge market penetration. He expects the new app to be available in the Apple App Store next week.


soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. FC

    How very interesting... in a best setting scenario, this MAC App would require a wireless service (good luck inside a hospital) with a huge bandwidth to transmit hundreds of images (for CTs/MRIs) which has picture quality worthwhile and over a secure network that would not be hacker prone (given the problems with HIPPA) in a medical environment which uses vastly MICROSOFT-based operating systems... best of luck mobile MIM!

    February 4, 2011 at 20:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • doc

      i already use my iphone 4, logged into the secure wireless-g network in my hospital, to access the electronic patient medical record system. the only problem i see is the limitations of the iphone resolution and download time. obviously this would not be used to make any diagnostic reads, but would be helpful to show to patients at bedside, or get a quick look to see if there is anything grossly abnormal.

      February 5, 2011 at 19:00 | Report abuse |
    • Mike Gee

      Why do you insist on writing "HIPAA" incorrectly as "HIPPA" – did you win a lottery to get into medical school?

      February 6, 2011 at 01:32 | Report abuse |
    • DrJKH

      Mike: I know, it's one of my pet peeves, too. Just about EVERYONE writes HIPAA incorrectly, including many (if not most) HIPAA trainers.

      February 6, 2011 at 04:04 | Report abuse |
  2. meeee

    This is disturbing only because what if the doctors mis use this new app?

    February 4, 2011 at 21:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Thesource

    @FC: what's your point? You're telling me people with iPhones/iPads only use Macs?? So you are tellIng me you don't know anyone with an iPhone that uses windows?? Also look into the technology of how mobile mim works before you knock it

    February 4, 2011 at 21:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Karen Shelton

    might be of interest

    February 5, 2011 at 09:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Brian L

    I am a practicing Diagnostic Radiologist. I can't even fathom using an iphone to make diagnoses. I can only imaging the medicolegal implications of missing something and having to testify in court that you read the case on your iphone! Does anyone really need an app like this?

    February 5, 2011 at 12:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mike Gee

      Silly Brian – it's not intended to replace a workstation!

      February 6, 2011 at 01:33 | Report abuse |
  6. Andre

    This a dangerous App scanners use high resoultion monitors to make diagnostics using a i phone for diags is dangerous

    February 5, 2011 at 15:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. RadQueen

    Radiologists are required to read any of the above-mentioned images on special high-resolution monitors;anything else is not considered "diagnostic" quality, not even images viewed on standard PC monitors. So, while viewing images on mobile apps might seem amusing and is certainly a novel idea, they will not be considered useful. Not to mention the HIPAA (privacy policy) problems this may incur. Just because we can, doesn't mean we should.

    February 5, 2011 at 17:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • THATguy

      Re-read the article. FDA says that yes, this is diagnostic quality.

      The app has guides to make sure that all appropriate areas are viewed when zoomed in to an appropriate level to compensate for the lower overall resolution of the device. Also, the iPhone 4 / 4th Gen iPod Touch both have higher densities (pixels per inch) than any diagnostic-quality monitor.

      Now, should every scan be read this way? Of course not. But when a doc needs an emergency call or second opinion, this is far better than not being able to even start until the radiologist gets into the office.

      February 6, 2011 at 00:59 | Report abuse |
  8. XRayGuy

    Ok, so we used to have doctors doing house calls. Then everyone was told they have to come in to see the doctor. Now the doctor is going to diagnose from home while they drink coffee and watch Grey's Anatomy? Ask yourself, would you want a doctor to make a diagnosis from a tiny little phone screen when you life could be on the line? As someone else pointed out, CT Scans are sometimes over 1000 images. Good luck getting that on an iPhone! Really horrible idea and will make it to doctors who don't want to spend their own time having to come in to care for their patients.

    February 5, 2011 at 17:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • doc

      so actually, it sounds like your perception of doctors is probably based on watching Grey's Anatomy yourself. Here are some corrections:
      1) radiologists who read films are already sitting around drinking coffee and listening to music.
      2) primary care doctors and hospitalists can't bill for reading films, they rely on radiologist interpretations anyway
      3) an iphone radiology app will have no impact on doctors coming into the hospital. if i wanted a read, i could just call the radiology reading room. an app would just allow me to see what they're talking about. either way, if i needed to reassess the patient, i would have to come in regardless.

      i think this would be a good adjunct for non-radiologists to see what the official read is reporting. i don't think it would make any difference to patient care, and probably wouldn't make me more efficient either.

      February 5, 2011 at 19:15 | Report abuse |
    • Mike Gee

      This isn't intended only for lazy ER docs who don't want to get up from eating donuts to walk over to a work station...

      February 6, 2011 at 01:37 | Report abuse |
  9. DrJKH

    What about for the majority of us who use REAL smart phones? They shouldn't have approved it so prematurely, since it isn't available on multiple platforms.

    February 6, 2011 at 03:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • THATguy

      So you're saying that the FDA should've required cross-platform capabilities?

      Go look at how long it took MIM to get this FDA approved (some of the other articles on this are saying almost 3 years!) and imagine how much longer it would've taken in order to verify, test, and certify on every model of Blackberry, Android, and Windows Mobile phone out there.

      Now that it's approved on iPhone, it'll make it easier to add other platforms later, compared to doing them all at once.

      February 6, 2011 at 09:06 | Report abuse |
  10. JR Jake

    My concern now and always has been the security and privacy of patient information becoming accessible to any and all with a touch of a button. Encryption is one thing but when you create an app that can be purchased by any lay person does not bode well for the great majority of Americans who want ALL information, medical and not, on a need to know basis and nothing more. If a MD wants to show a patient at bedside, they can still have a copy of the 'slice' made for the patient chart or file that maintains patient confidentiality plus provides any and all participating medical personnel involved in the case immediate access as well.

    February 6, 2011 at 06:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • THATguy

      You do know that if someone guesses an iPhone password wrong 10 times, it wipes itself, right?

      So just like a hospital terminal, it's only/just as secure as the person using it.

      February 6, 2011 at 09:09 | Report abuse |
  11. Manny HM

    Quality control is very important here in Teleradiology. As long as the resolution and limitations are respected there are no problems. Telesurgery using robotics had been done for many years and Telepathology had been used to read slides for making cancer diagnosis. Again, quality control is the key.

    February 6, 2011 at 09:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. techie

    does cnn have to make each link they have post slightly different??!! pick a formatt will ya!

    February 6, 2011 at 09:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. techie

    since I don't see my earlier post, wirless is unstable and unsecure, don't care HOW password protected you all think you are. Never ever login to your bank wireless... just a tip

    February 6, 2011 at 09:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Steve P

    XRayGuy...as a radiologist, you just described my life, except it is most often at the hospital. Coffee, music, and a workstation. The vast majority can be accomplished via teleradiology right from my home with absolutely zero compromise in patient care. This app has no impact on anything, don't sweat it.

    February 6, 2011 at 16:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Jim F

    I don' t want anyone looking at my confidential medical information from anywhere other than a medical office. Who knows who else will be viewing it – family members, neighbors other people the subway, etc. – and whether they'll also hear identifying information (patient's name, date of birth, SSN) relayed when the first medical staffer calls to discuss the case with someone else outside of a professional environment? Too bad patients can't opt out of this.

    February 6, 2011 at 20:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • THATguy

      That's really a policy issue, isn't it? This isn't the first app to carry confidential information, just the first one that is FDA approved for diagnostics.

      February 6, 2011 at 21:05 | Report abuse |
  16. Thatguy???

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    February 7, 2011 at 01:19 | Report abuse | Reply
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  20. PHLK

    honestly, this is just mind-boggling how people can actually have so many controversies about whether or not this is such a good idea. in my personal opinion, the more technology gets improved the worst this world is getting. whatever happen to the beauty of men working for a good cause, rather than having to do things according to their own damn selfish comfort? personally, the more isolated we come apart from each other as human beings, all our morals,our principles, the gift of having to interact with each other-whether it be simply a doctor with their patients- its slowly deteriorating because of these inventions!!!

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