Title:
SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR IMPROVING DIAGNOSES OF MEDICAL IMAGE READING
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A system and method for improving diagnoses of patients may include accessing diagnostic information, prepared by a treating physician, of a medical condition of a patient from a third-party collector of the diagnostic information. Medical images associated with the medical condition of the patient may be accessed. At least a portion of the diagnostic information and the medical images may be communicated to a medical image reading professional to read and further diagnose the medical condition of the patient. In one embodiment, the diagnostic information includes a diagnostic question. By providing the diagnostic information to the medical image reading professional, the medical image reading professional may have additional knowledge of the medical condition of the patient and, therefore, diagnosis by the medical image reading professional may be improved.



Inventors:
Thorne, Curtis J. (Nashville, TN, US)
Allen, Gregg Phillip (Franklin, TN, US)
Application Number:
12/365824
Publication Date:
08/13/2009
Filing Date:
02/04/2009
Assignee:
PREMERUS, LLC
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
705/2
International Classes:
G06Q30/00
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Primary Examiner:
GILLIGAN, CHRISTOPHER L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DENTONS US LLP (P.O. BOX 061080, CHICAGO, IL, 60606-1080, US)
Claims:
What is claimed:

1. A method for improving diagnoses of patients, said method comprising: accessing diagnostic information, prepared by a treating physician, of a medical condition of a patient from a third-party collector of the diagnostic information; accessing medical images associated with the medical condition of the patient; and communicating at least a portion of the diagnostic information and the medical images to a medical image reading professional to read and further diagnose the medical condition of the patient.

2. The method according to claim 1, wherein communicating the diagnostic information and the medical images includes communicating the diagnostic information and medical images substantially simultaneously.

3. The method according to claim 1, further comprising providing access to the diagnostic information and medical images to the medical image reading professional via a communications network.

4. The method according to claim 1, further comprising receiving the further diagnosis of the medical condition of the patient in response to the medical image reading professional completing the further diagnosis.

5. The method according to claim 1, wherein accessing the diagnostic information includes accessing a clinical question posed by the treating physician.

6. The method according to claim 1, further comprising: deriving a clinical question based on the diagnostic information; and communicating the clinical question with the diagnostic information.

7. The method according to claim 1, wherein accessing the diagnostic information includes looking up the diagnostic information in a database.

8. The method according to claim 1, wherein communicating at least a portion of information to a medical image reading professional includes communicating to a radiologist.

9. A system for improving diagnoses of patients, said system comprising: a diagnosis information access module configured to access diagnosis information associated with a medical condition of a patient from a first data repository; a medical image access module configured to access medical images associated with the medical condition of the patient from a second data repository; and a communication module in communication with said diagnosis information access module and said medical image access module, and configured to communicate at least a portion of the medical diagnostic information and the medical images to a medical image reading professional for further diagnosing the medical condition of the patient.

10. The system according to claim 9, wherein the diagnostic information includes a clinical question posed by a treating physician of the patient.

11. The system according to claim 9, wherein the first data repository is operated by a third-party other than the treating physician.

12. The system according to claim 9, wherein the medical images are radiological images and the medical image reading professional is a radiologist.

13. The system according to claim 9, further comprising a graphical user interface (GUI) module configured to generate a GUI to enable the medical image reading professional to download the diagnostic information and medical images utilizing said communication module.

14. The system according to claim 9, further comprising a clinical question generation module configured to enable a clinical question to be generated, said communication module further configured to communicate the clinical question to the medical image reading professional.

15. The system according to claim 9, further comprising a diagnosis collection module configured to receive a further diagnosis of the medical condition based on the medical images and store the further diagnosis in association with the diagnostic information.

16. A method for improving diagnoses of patients, said method comprising: accessing diagnostic information, prepared by a treating physician, of a medical condition of a patient from a third-party collector of diagnostic information, the diagnostic information including a clinical question; and communicating the clinical question to a medical image reading professional to read and further diagnose the medical condition of the patient.

17. The method according to claim 16, wherein accessing the diagnostic information includes generating the clinical question stored with the diagnostic information, and wherein communicating the clinical question includes communicating the clinical question to the medical image reading professional.

18. The method according to claim 16, further comprising: accessing medical images associated with the medical condition of the patient; and communicating the medical images to the medical image reading professional.

19. The method according to claim 16, further comprising causing the clinical question to be displayed for the medical image reading professional.

20. The method according to claim 19, further comprising: receiving the further diagnosis from the medical image reading professional; and communicating the further diagnosis for storage with the diagnostic information to the third-party.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to the following co-pending U.S. Provisional Patent Applications: Ser. No. 61/065,061 filed on Feb. 8, 2008; No. 61/065,062 filed on Feb. 8, 2008; No. 61/065,085 filed on Feb. 8, 2008; and No. 61/065,055 filed on Feb. 8, 2008, the entire teachings of which are herein incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND

The practice of medicine has greatly advanced with the improvement of medical imaging technology. Medical imaging may include many different types of image of the human body, including x-ray imaging, computed tomography (CT) scan imaging, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI, etc. Through the use of medical imaging technology, medical professionals are able to see images of internal organs, for example, of patients to help diagnose medical conditions of the patients. While medical imaging technology has significantly improved medical care, because of the nature of creating and interpreting medical images, radiological or other imaging technique, inaccuracies in the imaging and interpretation processes of the medical images result. Because of the inaccuracies in the imaging and interpretation processes, patient medical conditions are often misdiagnosed.

Misdiagnosis of a medical condition, such as a disease or condition, may come in the form of false positives, false negatives, and false equivocal diagnoses. A false positive is a detection of a medical condition that does not exist. A false negative is a failure to detect a medical condition that is present in a patient. A false equivocal diagnosis is a statement that a definitive diagnosis cannot be made based on the information available (e.g., “cancer cannot be ruled out”) when sufficient information is available to make a definitive diagnosis. Each of these misdiagnoses may result in higher costs of treatment, additional suffering to patients, lost productivity, exposure to treatments which themselves have side effects that diminish health status, and additional burden on the healthcare system as a whole. It has been estimated by the American College of Radiology that frequency of misdiagnosis of radiological imaging interpretations is as high as 30%. And, given that it has been estimated that 40% to 60% of total healthcare spend is influenced by radiological imaging and interpretations therefrom, misdiagnoses results from misinterpretation of medical imaging has a large impact on the healthcare system.

Medical literature documents significant variation in misdiagnosis rates among medical image reading professionals. Much of the misdiagnoses in reading medical images occur from medical image reading professionals either not having enough experience or not having enough experience reading particular types of medical conditions (e.g., small cell lung cancer), modalities (i.e., medical imaging technology), and/or anatomical regions (i.e., body parts). For example, a large-scale study of proficiency in reading screening mammography studies concluded that false negative findings range from 3% to 71% (mean of 23%) and false positive findings range from 1% to 29% (mean of 10%), and that the higher overall accuracy was associated with more experience and a higher focus on screening mammograms. It is therefore reasonably predictable that a general radiologist who reads relatively few mammograms while attending to the broad range of clinical radiology needs of a rural community in which he or she resides, is not proficient in reading medical images for brain tumors, small cell lung cancer, or other diseases. Because of the broad nature of the clinical practice, the general radiologist is more likely than a specialist to misdiagnose both mammograms and other medical conditions where experience is not sufficient to attain proficiency.

As is traditional protocol for treating physicians who treat patients, it is frequently true that little, if any, information is provided to medical image reading professionals. If information other than an indication of the particular anatomical region that is to be diagnosed is provided to a medical image reading professional, the information is typically symptomatic information. For example, if a patient has a headache, the medical image reading professional may provide a script with the word “headache” to indicate a symptom expressed by the patient. Alternatively, the treating physician may indicate “abdominal pain” to a medical image reading professional. Symptomatic information may provide a clue to the medical image reading professional for what to look for in the medical images. However, little, if any, patient knowledge is provided to a medical image reading professional to consider prior to reading the medical images for diagnosing the medical condition of the patient. In other words, the medical image reading professional performs his or her reading of the medical images with little or no direction from the treating physician. The reason for providing such little information may be due to culture of treating physicians, scripts being limited in space or options for treating physician comments, or simply due to paradigm of the medical profession, where treating physicians have always provided limited information to medical image reading professionals, so the trend simply perpetuates.

SUMMARY

To overcome the problem of medical image reading professionals receiving little, if any, information that may be used as knowledge for reading medical images to perform diagnoses of medical conditions of patients, the principles of the present invention provide for providing diagnostic information, such as a clinical question to a medical image reading professional. A third-party may collect the diagnostic information for use in ensuring that a treating physician creates a proper treatment plan for treating a medical condition. The treating physician or third-party may form a clinical question that may be a portion of the diagnostic information. The diagnostic information provided to the medical image reading professional may be general or detailed depending on the medical condition. Examples of clinical questions may include, “does this patient have lung cancer?,” “does this patient have a clogged artery?,” and “does this patient have a cerebral aneurysm?”

One embodiment of a process for improving diagnoses of patients may include accessing diagnostic information, prepared by a treating physician, of a medical condition of a patient from a third-party collector of the diagnostic information. Medical images, test results or other medical information associated with the medical condition of the patient may be accessed. At least a portion of the diagnostic information and the medical images may be communicated to a medical image reading professional to read and further diagnose the medical condition of the patient. In one embodiment, the diagnostic information includes a diagnostic question.

One system for improving diagnoses of patients may include a diagnosis information access module configured to access diagnosis information associated with a medical condition of a patient from a first data repository. A medical image access module may be configured to access medical images associated with the medical condition of the patient from a second data repository. A communication module may be in communication with the diagnosis information access module and medical image access module, and be configured to communicate at least a portion of the medical diagnostic information and the medical images to a medical image reading professional for further diagnosing the medical condition of the patient. A clinical question generation module may be configured to enable a clinical question to be generated, manually, semi-automatically, or automatically, as understood in the art. In one embodiment, a diagnosis collection module may be configured to receive the diagnosis of the medical condition by the medical image reading professional and store the diagnosis-in association with the diagnostic information.

Another process for improving diagnoses of patients may include accessing diagnostic information, prepared by a treating physician, of a medical condition of a patient from a third-party collector of diagnostic information, where the diagnostic information includes a clinical question. The clinical question may be communicated to a medical image reading professional to read and further diagnose the medical condition of the patient. The clinical question may be displayed for the medical image reading professional to use in gaining knowledge of the medical condition of the patient to improve the ability of the medical image reading professional to accurately diagnose the medical condition.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

A more complete understanding of the method and apparatus of the present invention may be obtained by reference to the following Detailed Description when taken in conjunction with the accompanying Drawings wherein:

FIG. 1 is an illustration of an exemplary business environment in which medical professionals and organizations operate to diagnose and treat patients;

FIG. 2 is a flow diagram of an exemplary process for collecting diagnostic information and medical images to diagnose and treat patients;

FIG. 3 is a block diagram of an exemplary network used to collect and communicate diagnostic information and medical images to enable diagnosis and treatment of patients;

FIG. 4 is a screen shot of an exemplary graphical user interface that enables a medical image reading professional to access medical images and diagnostic information prepared by treating physicians of associated patients;

FIG. 5 is a screen shot of another exemplary graphical user interface that enables a medical image reading professional to access medical images and diagnostic information prepared by treating physicians of associated patients and prepare a diagnosis based on same;

FIG. 6 is a flow diagram of an exemplary process for improving diagnoses of patients; and

FIG. 7 is a block diagram of exemplary modules that may be utilized to provide operations in accordance with the principles of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is an illustration of an exemplary business environment 100 in which medical professionals and organizations operate to diagnose and treat patients. Treating physicians 102a-102n (collectively 102) are typically medical professionals who initially meet with patients (not shown) to diagnose medical conditions of the patients. The treating physicians 102 may be a patient's primary care physician, but could also be a specialist. The treating physician 102 alternatively may be an emergency room physician or any other medical professional whose position it is to treat a patient and request medical imaging (e.g., radiology, computed tomography (CT) scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)) to be performed on the patient to further assist in diagnosing a medical condition of the patient.

As understood, the medical profession is a difficult one due to risks involved with treating patients. Medical malpractice claims have become commonplace for a variety of reasons, some justified, others not. In response to the medical malpractice claims, insurance companies have attempted to limit exposure in a number of ways. One way that insurance companies have attempted to limit their exposure is by working with organizations that perform checks or oversight on medical procedures ordered by treating physicians prior to initiating the medical procedures. One such organization is a third-party diagnostic information collection organization 104. This organization 104 operates by communicating, generally via telephone or other communications network, such as the Internet, with a treating physician to ask a series of questions about a medical condition of a patient, collect diagnostic information 106, and either corroborate with or reject the physician's diagnosis of and treatment plan for the patient. In one embodiment, the collected diagnostic information 106 may include a clinical question, such as “does the patient have small cell lung cancer?” Alternatively, the third-party diagnostic information collection organization 104 may formulate the clinical question. In either case, by collecting diagnostic information 106, which may include a clinical question, knowledge may be collected from the treating physicians 102 that may used to help medical image reading professionals 108a-108n (collectively 108) perform their job of reading medical images and improve diagnoses over medical image reading professionals not having the knowledge, as has been traditional protocol.

The diagnostic information 106 collected from the treating physicians 102 by the third-party diagnostic information collection organization 104 may be shared with a medical image reading professional network manager 110. The medical image reading professional network manager 110 may manage a network of the medical image reading professionals 108. In one embodiment, the medical image reading professionals 108 are teleradiologists or other medical image reading professionals who read different types of medical images (e.g., CT scans). The medical image reading professionals 108 may be independent of or employees of the medical image reading professional network manager 110.

A medical imaging organization 112 may be any medical imaging facility that operates to perform medical imaging on patients. The medical imaging facility may perform radiological imaging or any other imaging in response to the treating physicians 102 providing a script (not shown) for medical images 114 to be taken. The medical images 114 may be still images or video images. The medical images 114 may additionally include audio, text, or other measurement information that may be generated by medical imaging equipment, as understood in the art. In one embodiment, the medical imaging organization 112 includes medical image reading professionals (not shown) who are employees or otherwise affiliated with the medical imaging organization 112. If the medical imaging organization 112 does have medical image reading professionals available to read the medical images 114, then the collected diagnostic information 106 may be communicated to the medical imaging organization 112 for the medical image reading professionals 108 to use. The medical images 114 may be communicated to the medical image reading professional manager 110 via network(s) 116. The network(s) may include data packet networks (e.g., the Internet), telecommunication networks, or any other types of networks over which telephone calls and data may be communicated, as understood in the art.

The medical image reading professional network manager 110 may collect and store the diagnostic information 106 and medical images 114 of patients. The collected diagnostic information 106 and medical images 114 may be communicated or otherwise distributed to the medical image reading professionals 108 or other medical image reading professionals that are not part of a network for use in gaining knowledge of a medical condition of a patient before reading medical images and diagnosing medical conditions of the patient. In response to reading the medical images and diagnosing medical conditions of patients, the medical image reading professionals 108 may generate a diagnosis 116 and communicate the diagnosis 116 back to the medical image reading professional network manager 110. The medical image reading professional network manager 110 may collect and distribute to the treating physicians directly or indirectly. It should be understood that the environment 100 is exemplary and that alternative configurations may be utilized to provide the medical image reading professionals 108 with the diagnostic information 106 generated by the treating physicians 102 in accordance with the principles of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a flow diagram of an exemplary process 200 for collecting diagnostic information and medical images to diagnose and treat patients. The process flow 200 shows how communications occur between the different parties shown in FIG. 1. At step 202, a patient is assessed by a treating physician 102a. The treating physician 102a may perform an initial diagnosis of a medical condition. In diagnosing the medical condition of the patient, the treating physician 102a may collect symptomatic information (i.e., symptoms that the patient has resulting from an underlying medical condition), diagnostic information (i.e., thoughts on what the medical condition could be), and clinical question(s) (i.e., question(s) that would lead another medical professional to investigate the possibility of the patient having a particular medical condition).

At step 204, the diagnostic information 106, which may include a clinical question, may be communicated to the third-party diagnostic information collection organization 104. The communication of the information may be performed in a variety of ways, including telephone call, fax, Internet communication, or otherwise. The diagnostic information 106 may be stored and further communicated to the medical image reading professional manager 110 at step 206. Alternatively, rather than the treating physician 102a communicating the diagnostic information 106 to the third-party diagnostic information collection organization 104, the diagnostic information 106 may be directly communicated to the medical image reading professional manager 110. In one embodiment, the diagnostic information 106 may be communicated to the medical imaging organization 112 to provide knowledge to the medical imaging technicians for capturing medical images that show anatomical regions in a manner that can better assist the medical image reading professional 108a in diagnosing the medical condition of the patient.

At step 208, the medical imaging organization 112 may image the patient to generate medical images 114, which may be communicated to the medical image reading professional manager 110 at step 210. Alternatively, the medical images 114 may be communicated directly to the medical image reading professional 108a. If the medical images 114 are communicated to the medical image reading professional manager 110, then the medical image reading professional manager 110 may communicate both the diagnostic information 106, which may include clinical question, and medical images 114 to the medical image reading professional 108a at step 212.

At step 214, the medical image reading professional 108a may diagnose the patient based on the diagnostic information 106 and medical images 114. A diagnosis 116 may be communicated to the medical image reading professional manager 110 at step 216a and, in response, the medical image reading professional manager may communicate the diagnosis 116 to the treating physician 102a. It should be understood that the medical image reading professional 108a may communicate the diagnosis 116 directly to the treating physician 102a as well. At step 218, the treating physician 102a may create a treatment plan.

FIG. 3 is a block diagram of an exemplary network 300 used to collect and communicate diagnostic information and medical images to enable diagnosis and treatment of patients. The network 300 may include computing and/or communications devices at each organization and medical professional. For example, treating physicians may utilized personal computers 302a-302n (collectively 302) or other computing devices, such as servers (not shown) for communicating with a communications network 304. A third-party diagnostic information collection organization 104 may utilize telephones (not shown) and server 306 for collecting diagnostic information of patients from treating physicians. A storage unit 308 that stores a data repository 310 of diagnostic information collected from the treating physicians may be in communication with the server 306. The data repository 310 may be a database of any configuration, as understood in the art.

Medical image reading professionals may utilize personal computers 312a-312n (collectively 312) for receiving and communicating information, such as diagnostic information and medical images over the network 304. A medical image reading professional network manager may utilize a server 314 for collecting information, such as diagnostic information and medical images, in a storage unit 316 in one or more data repositories 318a-318n (collectively 318). A medical imaging organization may utilize a server 320 for collecting medical images and storing the medical images in a storage unit 322 in a data repository 324. Although each organization is shown to have one server 306, 314, and 320, respectively, it should be understood that the single server representation is exemplary and that more than one server may be utilized in accordance with the principles of the present invention.

Data packets 326 may be communicated between servers 306, 314, and 320 and computing devices 302 and 312 to communicate diagnostic information and medical images. The data packets 326 may utilize any communications protocol for communicating data, voice, images, or video, as understood in the art. It should be understood that the use of data packets 326 is exemplary and that any other communications protocol may be utilized for communicating the diagnostic information and medical images. The communications between each of the computing and/or communications devices provided in FIG. 3 may be performed in the same or analogous manner as provided in FIGS. 1 and 2.

FIG. 4 is a screen shot of an exemplary graphical user interface (GUI) 400 that enables a medical image reading professional to access medical images and diagnostic information prepared by treating physicians of associated patients. The GUI 400 may be a website provided by the medical image reading professional manager for medical image reading professionals in a medical image reading professional network or otherwise access diagnostic information and associated medical images of patients. The GUI 400 may be a website on the Internet, virtual private network (VPN), intranet, or any other network. In one embodiment, the GUI 400 may include a list 402 of indicia representative of patients. The indicia may be alphanumeric and may be patient names or other identifiers. A medical image reading professional interfacing with the GUI 400 may select a patient, such as a patient having identifier P6996, using a pointing device, such as a computer mouse that controls a cursor 404, as understood in the art. In selecting the patient, the medical image reading professional may click the indicia or other selectable graphical element.

In response to the medical image reading professional selecting the patient, patient information 406 may be displayed in the GUI 400. In one embodiment, the patient information 406 may include medical “thumbnails” of medical images 408a-408n (collectively 408) and a listing of diagnostic information 410 in a text region 412. As previously described, the diagnostic information may include symptomatic information, diagnostic information, and clinical question(s). Each of the medical images 408 may be selectable such that a medical image reading professional may double-click on a medical image and the medical image may be displayed in a pop-up window, another webpage (see FIG. 5), or same webpage as currently being displayed. It should be understood that the GUI 400 is exemplary and that there are many alternative configurations of enabling a medical image reading professional to access the medical images 408 and diagnostic information.

FIG. 5 is a screen shot of another exemplary GUI 500 that enables a medical image reading professional to access medical images and diagnostic information prepared by treating physicians of associated patients and prepare a diagnosis based on same. The GUI 500 may display a medical image 502 of an anatomical region 504, such as a brain. The GUI 500 may include image selection elements 506 to enable the medical image reading professional to selectively view each of the medical images in a set of medical images associated with a patient to diagnose a medical condition. Furthermore, image adjustment elements 508 may be selectively utilized to enable the medical image reading professional to adjust or otherwise alter the medical image 502. For example, the image adjustment elements may be used to zoom in/out, change contrast, sharpen, or perform any other image adjustment(s) as understood in the art. The image adjustment elements 508 may be provided with any graphical control element(s), as understood in the art.

A diagnosis text entry box 510 may be provided for the medical image reading professional to enter diagnosis information associated with each medical image or the entire set of medical images. For example, the medical image reading professional may enter a finding, such as “cerebral aneurysm identified measuring 2 mm in diameter.” In addition, the medical image reading professional may utilize a graphical tool (not shown) to overlay an indicator 512 onto the medical image 502 to point to or otherwise identify (e.g., encircle or highlight) a medical condition, such as an aneurysm. The medical image reading professional may further utilize a measuring tool (not shown) to measure the size of the aneurysm and display the size on the medical image 502. It should be understood that additional diagnostic tools, manual, semi-automatic, or automatic, may be utilized in accordance with the principles of the present invention. In addition, the diagnostic tools may be configured to automatically generate, with or without confirmation by the medical image reading professional, diagnostic information into the diagnosis text entry box 510.

The medical image reading professional may select a “save” button 514 to save the set of altered medical images and diagnostic information as he or she is working. A submit button 516 may also be provided on the GUI 500 to enable the medical image reading professional to submit the diagnoses and altered medical images to a medical image reading professional manager and/or treating physician when complete.

FIG. 6 is a flow diagram of an exemplary process 600 for improving diagnoses of patients. The process 600 starts at step 602, where diagnostic information prepared by a treating physician of a medical condition of a patient may be accessed from a third-party collector of the diagnostic information. At step 604, medical images associated with the medical condition of the patient may be accessed. In accessing the diagnostic information and medical images, one or more data repositories that store the diagnostic information and medical images may be accessed. Alternatively, the diagnostic information and medical images may be passively received via a communications network. At step 606, at least a portion of the diagnostic information and medical images may be communicated to a medical image reading professional to read and further diagnose the medical condition of the patient. In communicating the diagnostic information and medical images, each may be posted on a website, provided in a queue for selection and download, or otherwise made available to a medical image reading professional to receive via download, or otherwise. In one embodiment, the diagnostic information and medical images may be communicated substantially simultaneously, where substantially simultaneously may include downloading both to or from a GUI. Alternatively, each of the diagnostic information and medical images may be downloaded or received separately from the same (e.g., medical image reading professional network manager) or different location (e.g., medical imaging organization and third-party diagnostic information collection organization). In response to the medical image reading professional completing a further diagnosis of the medical condition of the patient, the further diagnosis may be communicated back to the medical image reading professional network and/or treating physician.

The diagnostic information may include a clinical question, which may be provided by the treating physician or derived from diagnostic information provided by the treating physician. If derived from the diagnostic information, the derivation may be performed by a third-party diagnostic information collection organization. The clinical question may be communicated with the diagnostic information.

FIG. 7 is a block diagram of exemplary modules 700 that may be utilized to provide operations in accordance with the principles of the present invention. The modules may include a diagnostic information access module 702, medical image access module 704, and communication module 706. The diagnostic information access module 702 may be configured to access diagnostic information from a third-party diagnostic information collection organization, a data repository at the medical image reading professional manager, a treating physician, or via a communication. In one embodiment, the module 702 may include a search function for searching a data repository for a particular record associated with a particular patient using a patient identifier. The medical image access module 704 may be configured to access medical images from a data repository at a medical imaging organization or medical image reading professional network manager. The medical image access module 704 may include a search function for search a data repository for a particular record with a particular patient. The communication module 706 may be configured to communicate with the modules 702 and 704 and communicate at least a portion of the diagnostic information and the medical images to a medical image reading professional to read and further diagnose the medical condition of the patient. In one embodiment, the diagnostic information may include a clinical question posed by a treating physician of the patient or generated by a third-party diagnostic information collection organization. A GUI module 708 may be configured to generate a GUI for a user to enable the medical image reading professional to download the diagnostic information and medical images utilizing the communication module. The diagnosis collection module 710 may be configured to receive a diagnosis of a medical condition of a patient as prepared by the medical image reading professional (see FIG. 5). In one embodiment, the diagnosis collection module 710 may be configured to store the diagnosis prepared by the medical image reading professional in association with the diagnostic information. A clinical question generation module 712 may also be provided to enable treating physician or third-party to generate and submit a clinical question. In one embodiment, the clinical question generation module 712 may provide for the question to be entered manually or selected via a list of potential clinical questions. The modules 700 may be software modules executed on a computing system, such as a server, operating on a communications network. It should be understood that the modules 700 are exemplary and that additional and/or alternative modules 700 may be utilized to perform the same or analogous functionality in accordance with the principles of the present invention.

The previous detailed description of a small number of embodiments for implementing the invention is not intended to be limiting in scope. One of skill in this art will immediately envisage the methods and variations used to implement this invention in other areas than those described in detail. The following claims set forth a number of the embodiments of the invention disclosed with greater particularity.