VistA Imaging Acquires its 10 Billionth Medical Image
Thirty-three years ago, Dr. Ruth Dayhoff began VistA Imaging as a research project in her basement. Today, it’s one of the world’s largest digital medical image repositories.
On August 25, 2019, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA) Imaging system acquired its 10 billionth image, making VistA, the electronic health record used by VA medical centers (VAMCs), one of the largest digital medical image repositories in the world.
The VistA Imaging project integrates all of the Veteran’s medical images, whether acquired inside or outside VA, into the VistA electronic medical record, providing clinicians direct access to those images.
What began in 1986 as a research project in the basement of Dr. Ruth Dayhoff, VA’s former Director of Digital Imaging in Medicine, formally launched in September 1991 at the Washington VAMC. In the beginning, VA used analog (home video quality) cameras to capture images. In 1997, VA added the ability to acquire Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) images, allowing VistA Imaging to capture digital images directly from radiology computed tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), X-RAY units, ultrasounds, retinal images, and others. VA installed VistA Imaging at all VAMCs in 1998.
Today, the imaging system captures clinical images, scanned documents, motion video, and other non-text data, and makes them part of the patient’s electronic medical record. Over 650 different models of DICOM image acquisition instruments send images to VistA, enabling VA to acquire over a billion images annually.
Thanks to VistA Imaging, health care providers can view a Veteran’s images regardless of where the patient obtains care in VA, as well as images from the Department of Defense. Veterans may use VA’s Blue Button feature to view or download their own radiology images.
This milestone marks an important achievement for VA and VistA Imaging. By improving ease of access to Veteran records, OIT continues to deliver exceptional customer service to its VA customers and the Veterans they serve.