Medical Applications of CD-R Take Off

Compact Disc-Recordable (CD-R) technology is the write-once version of the wildly popular CD-ROM format. A CD-R disc can hold up to 650 MB of digital data and can be read back in any of the millions of low-cost CD-ROM drives commonly installed as standard equipment on most new personal computers sold. CD-R is widely recognized as offering the lowest cost per megabyte of any random-access writable data storage medium. In addition, it is compact, durable, versatile and can used to reliably archive data for upwards of one hundred years. Further, because CD-R is a true wirte-once medium, it provides a legal hard copy of the information stored thereon.

These capabilities have made CD-R the data storage medium of choice for many vertical market applications. Whether original electronic data files or scanned images of paper documents, whether text, graphics, audio or video, CD-R is being used to store, retrieve and distribute huge quantities of digital information every day. Banks store check images, lawyers file legal documents, engineers archive huge CAD files, and phone companies deliver extensive, detailed bills to large customers, all using CD-R technology.

Yet no other application area may offer a better demonstration of the value of CD-R technology than the medical imaging arena. Many of the state-of-the-art medical imaging systems and networks are Unix-based, though this is not always obvious due to the embedded nature of the systems integration. Young Minds pioneered the Unix CD-ROM market and continues to lead in the application of CD-ROM and CD-Recordable technologies in new and innovative markets such as medical imaging.

Recent advances in digital imaging technology for medical applications have lead to an explosion of digital data which needs to be collected, analyzed and stored, often for an indefinite period of time. Summary data from previous medical imaging tests are inadequate when tracking the development or healing of an injury or illness; the original data must be readily available to allow detailed comparisons. Further, with the increasing potential of medical liability extending long after diagnosis and treatment has occurred, the original data from medical imaging tests which contributed to the diagnosis and /or treatment becomes invaluable in supporting a physicianís decision.

Finally, patients are becoming more mobile, moving from one area to another, or from one insurance plan to another, often changing doctors along the way. With the increasing level of digital data content in patientsí medical records, it becomes important to be able to transfer such data conveniently between physicians. Unlike any other writable medium, using CD-R discs allows the digital data to be read back by very inexpensive and commonly available CD-ROM drives. This then offers the potential for the data to be accessed and reviewed on inexpensive, desktop personal computers, at least one of which is installed in virtually every medical office today.

Young Minds CD-Recordable technology is being used by leading medical equipment manufacturers and integrators to apply CD-R technology to medical applications in two main ways: recording of medical imaging data onto CD-R discs by hospital or medical testing laboratories for delivering test results directly to the patient or the patientís physician, or for internal near-line archiving, commonly using a CD-ROM jukebox with a built-in CD-ROM drive, to provide a permanent archive of all medical imaging tests performed by the medical facility, while offering immediate access to the data by all authorized personnel throughout the organization.

CD-R is yet another tool which can be applied to enable higher-quality, yet more efficient, use of the limited medical resources available in our, or any, society. Though this was probably not what the inventors of CD-R thought it would be used for, it should be gratifying to them that the medical applications of their invention may provide great benefits.

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