DICOM (Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine) provides a necessary format for handling device connectivity. Most importantly, it provides a means for:
- Handling one-, two, and three-dimensional data such as ultra-sound, CT, MRI, and PET.
- Handling time-varying data such as streamed ultra-sound images.
- Resolving endian issues in binary data storage since different processor types (i.e., Intel versus power-PC) store bits in a different order.
- Providing a means to store data in separate “tags”, allowing quite a bit of flexibility within the format.
- Providing a means for individual manufacturers to store private data, such as device settings, within a DICOM file.
- Storing patient information within each file for easy connection back to the patient.
- Permitting the removal of patient information to support HIPAA compliance.
In all, the success of DICOM cannot be disputed. It has provided a means for medical devices to connect to one another for decades. By all accounts, it has been a raging success in enabling device communication, collaboration, innovation, and has improved the healthcare process substantially for patients, physicians, and healthcare organizations.