If your practice is currently relying on Horos to store medical images, you may want to consider looking toward a cloud-based picture archiving and communication system (PACS) to provide expanded storage capacity, as well as more robust sharing functionalities.
Since Horos is not intended to be used for long-term storage of medical images, a cloud PACS is a superior option. The cloud offers many advantages for managing medical images including being cost effective, secure and accessible from any location, in addition to providing an added safeguard for practices against natural or man-made disasters.
While the cloud offers improved functionality, many cloud Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) viewers on the market are specialized for clinical situations, and may not offer as robust capabilities as are possible with Horos. In such cases, it is an attractive option to be able to export an imaging study into Horos to perform advanced visualization, such as PET/CT fusion.
With the these benefits in mind, the next logical question to ask yourself is, "Can Horos integrate with the cloud?"
The short answer is a conditional yes. Horos can integrate with the cloud, but not every cloud. There are a few conditions and caveats that you need to take into account to determine if a particular cloud service will integrate with Horos.
Look for Support of DICOM in Cloud PACS Solutions
The first caveat to consider is whether the cloud vendor supports standard DICOM protocols, as not all cloud-based options do. This will enable you to use either the vendor's DICOM viewer or your local instance of Horos to analyze imaging studies.
Purview ViVA, a cloud-based PACS that supports editing DICOM imaging, provides a seamless connection between Horos and the cloud. This empowers users to launch Horos and send and receive images directly with the Purview ViVA cloud using the DICOM protocol. Purview ViVA has a built-in integration with Horos that enables this query and retrieve functionality with the simple click of a button.
By moving your imaging studies into the cloud, you can leverage the benefits of a third-party cloud storage solution while still retaining the benefits of using a free, open-source medical image viewer like Horos.
Integration and Compliance
It is important to note from a backup perspective that even after you've integrated Horos with your third-party cloud solution, you must still remember to send studies back to the cloud after any annotations have been made in Horos.
If you download images from your cloud PACS to be annotated in Horos, the medical imaging data is downloaded directly into the Horos application and now lives locally on your computer. Without sending this information back to the cloud, you could be susceptible to data loss from a disaster recovery standpoint.
Additionally, when downloading information to Horos it is also important to remember that a patient's protected health information (PHI) will be housed on your computer. If you have security requirements with regards to local storage of PHI, you will need to confirm you're in compliance with all applicable rules and regulations before enabling such an integration to download data locally into Horos.
However, by integrating your current workflow with the cloud, you have the ability to view, edit and annotate images without having to download data locally to your computer. This is also beneficial because as the number of images grows, the cloud will grow along with you, so you'll never run out of space which can't be said for the limited storage capacity of the Horos database.
Do Your Homework
While the benefits of integrating Horos with a cloud PACS solution are attractive, those perks can be easily undermined by a lack of proper vetting before you commit to a particular cloud system. Research your vendors and their products thoroughly, so you don't end up paying for avoidable missteps in support or compliance liability down the road.
It is also valuable to consider the benefits of working with Horos experts and utilizing a cloud PACS that has been purpose built to integrate with Horos, such as Purview ViVA.