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Cloud Computing – Taking advantage of cloud-based services in radiology

February 04, 2017
Scott Seidelmann
From the January 2017 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

By Scott Seidelmann

Health care CIOs have long harbored concerns about adopting cloud-based systems. Those reservations may have held water years ago, but the reality today is that hospitals that remain leery of cloud-based systems risk forgoing significant clinical, operational and financial efficiencies that accompany this technological evolution. Misconceptions about security, bandwidth, availability, reliability and data control must be overcome so that hospitals can take full advantage of the cloud.

In radiology, the need for clinical and operational efficiency is more crucial than ever. Growing volumes, value-based reimbursement contracts and the rapid pace of hospital mergers have all combined to increase pressure on radiologists and hospitals alike to reduce costs and increase efficiencies. With the emergence of cloud-based, mission-critical systems — such as the picture archive and communications systems (PACS) — there’s plenty of upside to moving to the cloud. It can save you lots of money, free up resources and leverage new services. Here’s what CIOs need to know now about the real benefits and the misperceived risks of investing in a cloud-based PACS system:

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Cost savings are real
Despite all the technological advancements in radiology, the PACS is still fairly archaic. Most hospitals still invest in on-premises PACS solutions that require significant investments in license fees and hardware, and legions of IT staff to support it. Cloud-based systems do not require on-site hardware and do not have license fees. With no on-site hardware and software to support, this means that IT teams can focus on other projects.

Security is tight
Security of personal health information (PHI) will, and should always, be a health care CIO’s top concern. Can CIOs trust having their patient data in the cloud? In 2015, Rob Alexander, the CIO of credit card giant Capital One, strongly made the case that security on Amazon Web Services (AWS) is far stronger than it ever could be for their own data centers. It’s why we are now seeing some of the biggest health care players in the country make the move to these cloud services. Philips Healthcare, a medical device leader, is storing 15 petabytes of clinical data from 390 million medical records across hundreds of customer sites and 100 countries with AWS. AWS’ website has case studies from Johnson & Johnson, Orion Health, Flatiron Health, Medstar and others that are all placing their trust, and their data, in its cloud. The question isn’t whether cloud security is strong enough — it’s whether your hospital security is stronger.

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