Radiology applications demonstrate impact of cloud for improving efficiency, reducing costs and enhancing security.
While doctors and nurses are still the driving force behind delivering excellent care, technology is playing an increasingly important role. And it’s not just new devices or robotics that are disrupting healthcare. The evolution is being propelled by software and AI that are central to everything from EHRs for sharing patient information among providers, to systems that improve clinician efficiency and quality of care by speeding diagnosis and determining the best treatments.
To truly be able to deliver coordinated care and the best patient experience, however, the healthcare industry needs to overcome several challenges, the most prominent being full integration and interoperability of diverse systems to support data sharing. This is not an insignificant barrier, since many healthcare IT solutions operate as a single-function, dedicated system.
Hospitals realize they can’t continue on this same technology path. In a world that strives for efficiency, lower costs and better care, simply expanding ineffective legacy systems is foolhardy. Yet, hospitals remain hesitant to change, citing concerns about security, patient privacy and cost, when considering adoption of new cutting-edge solutions-such as cloud computing-that are widely and effectively used in virtually every other industry.
Clearing the air
When vendors advertise “cloud-based” offerings or hospitals are asked about “cloud” solutions, they aren’t typically referring to cloud native applications. Instead what they’re talking about is often remotely hosted servers that lack the benefit of horizontal scalability (load balancing) or vertical scalability (flexibility in the type of hardware used). In addition, access to these remotely hosted software solutions is typically achieved through VPNs, which negatively impact the performance of the software by limiting bandwidth.
Related article: Cloud Computing: Is It Right for Your Radiology Practice?
Cloud native applications, however, offer tremendous benefits, the most significant of which is requiring far fewer management updates than a hardware-based solution. These solutions also provide the necessary computing power to process data and can scale more easily to meet the needs of a growing enterprise. Other advantages of cloud solutions include:
Radiology claims first-mover advantages
Even though about 75% of imaging systems are still stand-alone-primarily used for image viewing, storage and distribution-radiology departments at many hospitals are taking the lead in cloud adoption for image management and access.
Many radiologists are evaluating flexible and cost-effective enterprise-wide solutions to address the limited scalability, storage capacity, computing power, and image distribution options common to legacy PACS systems. As part of this evaluation, forward-thinking radiology leaders are examining cloud solutions, since the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model requires minimal capital outlay. This helps protect both their initial, and long-term, investments.
Benefits of moving to the cloud far outweigh the risks of maintaining the status quo with silo-based solutions, particularly as value-based care-and value-based imaging-become the norm:
Many health system leaders remain hesitant to adopt new technologies, including cloud computing, because of the strict requirements designed to protect patient information and privacy in a highly regulated industry. However, much of the skepticism and initial fears about the cloud is simply perceived. The combination of cloud native applications with AI are helping hospitals drive greater efficiency, reduce costs, and increase data security across the entire organization.
Fabien Beckers is CEO and co-founder of Arterys, a medical imaging AI company building disruptive software for improved diagnoses and outcomes. He earned a PhD in Quantum Physics from the University of Cambridge and an MBA from Stanford University.