Cloud: The New Destination for Medical Images

By CIOReview | Monday, July 10, 2017
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From simple walk-in to the healthcare provider’s office to undergoing cancer treatment, no process has been left untouched by medical images. As the medical images help physicians and healthcare services to better understand patient condition, prudence lies in exploring options that would store medical images at minimal cost and effort. Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS) has been playing crucial role in storing and providing access to medical images. As the system digitally transmits the images that are in electronic form, PACS saves a great deal for the healthcare practitioners and services. However, there are several limitations in terms of storage that restrain the usage of PACS.

Why PACS is not the best solution?

Analysts suggest the growing number of procedures in medical arena require medical images in different form. For example, prescription image captured by a mobile or X-ray of bladder. From data management point of view, storing this vast information locally is infeasible. To cope with the storage demand, the healthcare service would have to invest in hardware. As the demand for storage space grows, the corollary will be a skyrocketed investment in hardware infrastructure.

Again, as the life expectancy grows, medical practitioners will refer to the patient’s history, which is inclusive of medical images over a longer course of time. In this scenario, if the patient repeatedly participates in medical imaging process, the cost of treatment soars. Only large economical data storage with ease of access can be the solution to overcome the challenge of storage and data retention. Again, with the advent of new age technologies and methodologies such as 3D imaging, MRI scans, telehealth, the generation of images is going to scale up. Hence, reliance on PACS may prove to be ineffective.

Cloud is the best option

Healthcare practitioners and services can adopt cloud based options for several reasons. Using cloud platform, they can easily transmit and store the medical images in real time. As the cloud eases the data transmission from any part of the globe, the healthcare providers can ask for patient history and data from any corner of the globe and collaborate with the fellow practitioners to solve a particular medical case. Data discovery becomes a faster process as cloud-based image storage solutions fair well in terms of scalability and availability.  

As cloud services allow the customers several payment options like pay as you go, subscription based model, healthcare services restrain their expenditure on storage and discovery. Again, storing images in cloud is the best way to break the data siloes and conduct healthcare processes in a streamlined manner. Healthcare providers can also manage processes such as admission, patient care, and IT using a single cloud-based solution. As the data can be secured using single sign on, encryption, and numerous other methods for defining access and usage, cloud based solution trumps other options.

If practitioners and providers mitigate security risks and comply with the regulations, then cloud-based medical imaging storage can be a game changer. While zeroing in on the right cloud solution for medical imaging storage, healthcare providers must give cognizance to the requirements of HIPAA, HITECH and the other regulatory requirements.

Incorporating adequate access rules and compliant practices has always been a challenge but their number looks insignificant as compared to the insurmountable challenge for the PACS based system. At the end of the day, practicing in an economical manner is the right choice and cloud-based medical imaging storage is a viable option.