Cloud PACS and mobile apps reinvent radiology workflow

While cloud computing has been around for more than a decade, health care is finally embracing it today. A recent market study1 reported that the global cloud computing market in the health care industry was valued at US$1.82 billion in 2011 and is expected to reach US$6.79 billion by 2018, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 21.3% from 2012 to 2018.1

The rapid adoption of cloud computing in health care presents opportunities and challenges. Cloud-based PACS along with mobile apps promise to simplify image and data sharing and cut costs, yet one challenge is secure storage. Medical images are projected to require 30% of the world’s storage and could soon represent 10% of all of U.S. healthcare costs or about 1.5% of US GDP.1 From an IT perspective, the average 100-bed hospital, performing 40,000-50,000 radiology exams annually, is adding 5 terabytes of data to image storage.Visit here; Cloud PACS system.

There are several approaches to building a cloud-based PACS or image exchange, which offer feasible solutions to managing enormous volumes of readily accessible data.

Why choose the cloud?

How do cloud-based solutions affect radiologists? It is becoming more practical from an efficiency and cost perspective for radiology to share images and reports across a secure cloud network.

As more health care providers and hospitals invest in electronic health records (EHR), they are integrating image viewers into EHRs—essentially building a bridge between referring physicians and radiologists. These infrastructures are increasingly using cloud-based networks as the backbone.

Cost is a major factor driving the rapid adoption of cloud-based infrastructures in health care. According to the Government Accountability Office, 75% of all imaging procedures are performed outside of the hospital setting where picture archiving and communication systems (PACS) are practically nonexistent.2 

Currently, the National Healthcare Information Network (NHIN) requires a PACS to share medical images,2 which means 75% of medical images will not be available to providers without PACS. A cost-effective solution to the problem is Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) or on-demand software. Since applications are delivered as a service over the Internet, users can pay on a pay-per-use model.

With on-demand applications, such as radiology information systems (RIS), PACS, remote image review software (teleradiology), advanced 3-dimensional (3D) apps, and billing software, facilities avoid paying huge upfront costs.3 Multiple hospitals can share standard software, infrastructure, storage, and processing power. Cloud computing can help imaging [networks] rapidly scale and descale operations and avoid huge spending on maintenance of costly applications and storage.3

Additionally, the flexibility of anywhere, anytime access to medical data allows radiologists to report remotely from outside the hospital.

These factors—low upfront costs, cost-effective scalability, and flexibility—are driving the migration to cloud-based PACS.

Cloud-based models simplify image sharing

One of the true marks of genius is making something technically complex seem simple. This was the approach Steve Jobs took when introducing the concept of the personal computer.

In health care, what seems simple is actually quite complex. This is the case with image and data sharing. A recent survey found that outside images were handled in emergency departments where approximately 20% of images were hand-carried or emailed directly to physicians; about 90% of images were entered into the hospital PACS, while about 10% were managed through the departments treating the patient. Several of the physicians and IT staff in the survey noted that images were frequently lost and exams had to be redone.


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