If you’re a neurology specialist, you’ve probably had to share a medical image with someone. Whether you needed a second opinion on a cervical MRI showing a disc herniation, or you wanted to share a head CT with a patient - you've either used file sharing services or burned a CD. These solutions are slow, clunky, disorganized, manual, and prone to error. - And, I know what you’re thinking… “anything more would be too expensive.”
Medical imaging technology traditionally has been an expensive capital investment for a typical neurologist. It’s not surprising that specialists like you are continually seeking ways to lower imaging costs. These methods are great but there is a better answer…
Instead you can use a web-based viewer and cloud-based image storage. Web based viewers have come a long way and now can virtually replace your old desktop workstation which used to cost tens of thousands of dollars. Many are fully FDA approved for primary diagnosis. By leveraging web-based storage, you not only can gain access to your medical images from anywhere on any device, but you can do this with a much lower capital investment and very reasonable usage fees that align with how you charge for your services.
Unless you've been living under a rock, you’ve likely heard the term Cloud Computing. And if you’re like many others, you don’t understand exactly what that means or how you can use it.
Most think that the Cloud is just for storage. But it’s actually a combination of computing resources located at another location. The implications and benefits of separating physical location from computing power are vast.
For more information about transitioning to a cloud PACS, click here.
How the Cloud Helps You
Cloud = Enablement
Medical images stored in the Cloud can be accessed from anywhere, shared with specialists or patients; easily and instantaneously available for second opinions.
Cloud-available data can be accessed from anywhere there is cell service or an Internet connection, on virtually any device, at any time. By separating data dependency from physical computing, access to important information improves. This enables geographically dispersed specialists to collaborate on an individual patient.
Images are instantaneously available at the point of patient treatment. Whether that is a clinic or operating room.
An additional advantage of Cloud-based neurological studies is that they can be combined and accessed right from within a patient’s medical record. Rather than having to review each separately, the now complete medical record becomes a more powerful diagnostic tool.
Cloud = Cost Savings
Cloud users get charged only for the computing they consume. This means that rather than incur a large up front capital expenditure, they pay for the computing they use, as it is consumed. By converting a capital expenditure to an operating expense, cash flows improve. Expenses more closely align with patient revenue, making these costs more digestible.
Cloud providers shoulder the computing equipment maintenance burden. Also gone is the risk of technical obsolescence and the cost of replacing outdated technology.
Cloud = Flexibility
Cloud data is accessed simply via a web browser or downloadable mobile app. No proprietary computing equipment is required to access it. The Cloud obviates the issues associated with incompatible computing systems. For neuroimaging, this means that it can be viewed on any computer, tablet, or smartphone.
Cloud = Security
Sensitive or confidential data stored in a Cloud environment resides in an encrypted state making an access breach more difficult. And since no data is transferred to or resides on the end-computing device, there is less risk of an outsider physically accessing this data.
Cloud = Peace of Mind
When Cloud systems are substituted for physical computing systems, they become less susceptible to disasters, whether natural or man-induced. Everyone has had the experience of losing important information due to an operator mistake or a technical failure. Cloud computing systems are typically more resilient - duplicated in multiple facilities separated by hundreds of miles, served by different electrical and communication grids, on different tectonic plates and in separate microclimates. A disaster at one location will not interfere with operations or mirrored storage in the second. Even if your local computing equipment becomes disabled, you still have access to your studies in the Cloud.
While a Horos workstation is quite functional, it is not intended to be the ultimate storage device for medical images. Warehousing images on a workstation will ultimately degrade its performance. It also creates a single point of failure. Storage of important studies in a proper PACS system is always recommended.
If Cloud isn't a part of your neurology practice today, you certainly should consider the benefits you are missing. While the Cloud may still feel nebulous to some, it is an important step forward in the progression of medical information. With the Cloud enabling added flexibility, accessibility and peace of mind, it is inevitable that progressive neurology organizations should consider that alternative.