Key Images for Efficiency: More than just Communication
While most people think of key images as a method of communication from Radiologist to clinician, depending on the implementation, they can also help improve efficiency.
If key images are created, and an enterprise viewer that supports their display is used by clinicians, the enterprise viewer can use the key image references to retrieve and load the key images first, without waiting for the entire study to be retrieved and loaded. This can improve how quickly the initial display is completed.
This efficiency is particularly noticeable in a modern environment where the PACS and Enterprise Viewer are separated by a VNA. By looking for and processing the KOS (as an Image Display actor under IHE KIN) first, the enterprise viewer can optimize which objects it retrieves. If the user is satisfied with the key images (and report in the EMR), then no more data need be retrieved (saving resources). Consider the impact of retrieving and displaying the five (for example) key images versus all 4,000 CT images in the study and it is easy to imagine the resource/processing/time savings.