Radiology practices have traditionally sent their images and associated data to the ACR for accreditation and clinical trials on CDs or film. But those materials take a great deal of time and effort to produce and ship, and can be easily lost or damaged. To streamline the transmission process, the ACR has developed an electronic platform — known as Transfer of Images and Data (TRIAD) — that makes submitting images and data faster, simpler, and more secure.
Available as both a Web application and a software download, TRIAD is a standards-based solution that allows practices to transmit images and data for accreditation, clinical trials, and the ACR Dose Index Registry (DIR). It also supports such tools as personal health records and the ACR’s new Radiology Case Management System — a case-based content distribution program. “TRIAD is a platform that is flexible and nimble enough to support a variety of business objectives,” says Frank Shi, senior manager and architect of TRIAD at the ACR. “Within radiology organizations, a lot of workflows must be automated for efficiency and improved accuracy, and TRIAD provides the workflow execution capacity to manage those processes.” In clinical trials, for instance, trial data must be validated against protocols defined by the principal investigator. Rather than doing that tedious work manually, TRIAD reads the DICOM data sets and validates them automatically, Shi explains.
The ACR initially developed TRIAD to support data transfer for clinical trials. But over time, the technology team redesigned the software, expanding its capabilities to streamline accreditation and registry workflows. Now many institutions are using TRIAD to submit images and data to the ACR for CT, MRI, breast MRI, nuclear medicine, PET, and ultrasound accreditation, as well as for clinical trials and the DIR. Tao Wang, project manager for TRIAD at the ACR, says that the technology cuts out all of the unnecessary steps of preparing and shipping CDs for submissions. By automating image and data transmission, TRIAD maximizes productivity and streamlines the sharing of findings among stakeholders — two key goals of ACR’s Imaging 3.0TM
Saves Time and Money
In the past, once the ACR received burned CDs, it would repackage the discs and ship them to the reviewers, who are responsible for assessing the quality of the images. Following their evaluations, the reviewers would send the CDs back to the ACR, which would finally ship them back to the institutions. This method had several drawbacks, according to Shi: “Producing and sending CDs is error-prone, clumsy, and takes a long time. That kind of manual process is burdensome and just cannot fly in this electronic age. Now image sharing is instant.”
Available to accreditation, clinical trial, and registry participants, TRIAD makes the submission process easier by allowing institutions to send encrypted electronic images and data files to the ACR server. It also gives institutions the flexibility to change, replace, or delete uploaded data with ease. Those who download the software can integrate the program with their PACS, allowing them to drag files directly into TRIAD. Once the files are ready to be sent, the user clicks a button to transmit the images and data to the ACR, which then forwards them to the reviewers.
As administrator at Advanced Imaging, Inc. in Pittsburgh, one of David Rimsek’s responsibilities includes overseeing ACR accreditation for MR, CT, and ultrasound at all of his institution’s facilities. Rimsek was among the first to use TRIAD to submit images and data for ultrasound accreditation and was amazed at how easy the program was to install and use. “In the past, the ultrasound accreditation was very labor-intensive because there are so many films and so much paperwork — with everything in duplicate,” Rimsek says. “I’m not an IT person, but I was easily able to download the TRIAD viewer and set everything up myself, and literally, I was able to submit everything that needed to be submitted in less than an hour.”