Medical image protection and authentication are becoming increasingly important in an e-Health environment where images are readily distributed over electronic networks. Research has shown that medical image watermarking is a relevant process for enhancing data security, content verification and image fidelity. At the same time, it is necessary to preserve as much original information in the image data as possible, to avoid causing performance loss for human viewers.
A widely accepted fact in generic image watermarking is that not all watermarking methods are suitable for all image types and all applications. Although this topic has been explored for generic image watermarking, it has received very little attention in medical image watermarking. Most medical image watermarking research focuses on developing watermarking systems that preserve image fidelity and/or robustness, under typical non-medical image degradation processes (for example, data communication losses). However, they do not provide tailored solutions for specific medical image types, or for typical degradation processes arising from typical medical uses involving image manipulations.
Given the range of medical image types that exist, as well as the need to protect images without undue loss of data, and the knowledge that not all watermarking methods are suitable for all image types, an important gap in medical image watermarking research was been identified. If medical images are to be protected appropriately as they travel from one site to another, a suitably tailored watermarking scheme must be selected for each image type.
This project investigated the development and pilot implementation of a novel technique for embedding hidden 'watermark' information in medical image data files which would be useful for enhancing security and privacy protection, and at the same time would allow estimation of the amount of data loss (if any) that has occurred to an image due to successive manipulation, transmission and storage operations. This is important in ensuring that safety and quality standards are maintained, by protecting patient data from misuse by allowing ownership and access information to be embedded, and protecting health sector users from unknowingly using degraded data for critical clinical purposes.
The project was run as an e-Health Research Centre partner project, in conjunction with NICTA Qld Laboratory and with collaborating investigators based at the Queensland University of Technology and the University of Queensland.
Last Updated on Thursday, 29 September 2011 09:46