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Remote medical image diagnosis: DKFZ spin-off provides app free of charge during corona crisis

No. 18 | 26/03/2020 | by Koh

The current crises caused by the fast spread of covid-19 is forcing clinics and its medical staff to take actions that otherwise would require months or years: Home office and the provision of mobile software solutions. mbits, a spin-off of the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), has implemented mRay, a mobile communication platform for radiological images. Medical images are visualized and communicated fast and secure providing the staff with a digital remote solution. For the duration of the crisis, the company makes the software available to doctors and hospitals free of charge.


mbits, the medical image processing specialists around two former DKFZ researchers Michael Müller and Ingmar Gergel develop professional radiological software solutions for mobile devices. The research group had already started working in the field of medical image processing software at DKFZ in 2011. In the summer of 2015, the medical computer scientists founded the company mbits imaging GmbH with DKFZ participation.

Many hospitals currently facing the challenge of setting up home offices are providing their staff with remote access to computers at their workstations via VPN connections. However, the sole access to the clinic workstation is not sufficient in the coming weeks. Doctors need to be able to exchange information quickly. They need access to their hospital's image archiving system (PACS) and the ability to view, send or even diagnose medical image data on mobile devices.

Right now many hospitals are urgently looking for a way to enable their staff to view and report radiological image data from home. Therefore, mbits has decided to make mRay available free of charge for the duration of the crisis, but at least for the next two months. All clinical departments and physicians can use the mobile platform, which works with standardized DICOM data formats, without restrictions. Thus, the company wants to ensure that medical staff can communicate with each other even in the event of a quarantine, and that doctors can view images from home if necessary.

With this offer, the mbits team wants to support the work of those who are now fighting against SARS-CoV-2 by containing the spread of the pathogen and taking care of the infected.

mRay has been in use for several years in numerous university hospitals. The mbits developers are currently working hard to make new installations possible quickly and unbureaucratically.

With more than 3,000 employees, the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) is Germany’s largest biomedical research institute. DKFZ scientists identify cancer risk factors, investigate how cancer progresses and develop new cancer prevention strategies. They are also developing new methods to diagnose tumors more precisely and treat cancer patients more successfully. The DKFZ's Cancer Information Service (KID) provides patients, interested citizens and experts with individual answers to questions relating to cancer.

To transfer promising approaches from cancer research to the clinic and thus improve the prognosis of cancer patients, the DKFZ cooperates with excellent research institutions and university hospitals throughout Germany:

  • National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT, 6 sites)
  • German Cancer Consortium (DKTK, 8 sites)
  • Hopp Children's Cancer Center (KiTZ) Heidelberg
  • Helmholtz Institute for Translational Oncology (HI-TRON Mainz) - A Helmholtz Institute of the DKFZ
  • DKFZ-Hector Cancer Institute at the University Medical Center Mannheim
  • National Cancer Prevention Center (jointly with German Cancer Aid)
The DKFZ is 90 percent financed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and 10 percent by the state of Baden-Württemberg. The DKFZ is a member of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers.


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