The field of radiology is going into the cloud. Qualified speakers who spoke at a scientific session concerning cloud data-sharing services asserted that “Cloud-based information sharing is a major development which we are now leveraging in medicine and has so far received too little attention,” Michael A. Trambert, MD, and “Images, reports, discharge summaries, and now any HL7 (health level Seven International) data can be shared nearly instantaneously, anywhere in the world, securely, without requiring any hardware.” Mark Kovacs, MD. (Knaub, J. 2012) Cloud-based computing services give opportunity to the Radiologist who can become gatekeepers and offer image-brokering services as a way to thrive in the new health care climate. With the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act now a reality, predictably, the fee for service model will be history.
Larger hospital systems and health care organizations are implementing cloud technologies rapidly. The cloud computing technologies benefit cost-containment strategies and healthcare outcomes by exchanging patient data within moments. The cloud technologies also avail themselves to vendor-neutral interoperability characteristics. The cloud has endless archiving capability and image and information exchange at low cost. (Knaub) The trend towards larger healthcare systems as well as more combined care and government participation are a catalyst towards cloud-based computing services bursting with opportunities, the tipping point referred to by Don Seymour in Futurescan has occurred. All three of Malcolm Gladwell’s rules, have transpired; The Law of the Few, The Power of Context, and The Stickiness Factor. (Seymour, D. 2012)
“Delivering quality, value-added radiology services has become a business essential. Practices that adhere to hyper-efficient, volume-based models will be challenged to survive over the next decade. Those that proactively plan for and adjust to the evolving healthcare delivery system, on the other hand, are likely to find success.” Lisa Fratt (Fratt, L. 2011)
Fuzzy Cloud Clouds are usually managed by an IT company in some large warehouse where they house several businesses information. Computing capacity, set-up, and applications are vigorously provisioned and scheduled with the end user essentially renting capacity on demand. Acronyms for these services are, IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service), PaaS (Processing as a Service), and SaaS (Software as a Service). This private management of the cloud is a concern to Fred Prior, PhD because of the large amount of bandwidth that would be needed to connect and many institutions do not have that capacity. So performance would be hindered. With so much traffic he expresses concerns of privacy and security of the patient’s medical records as well. He also expresses concern for the ownership of the medical record. (Nagy, Philbin, Prior, 2011) The security concern is a real concern according to Dr. Shrestha the Vice President of Medical Information Technology, so an option for a private cloud can aid in security. He also discusses that it may be hard to adopt cloud-based technologies because it often is cost prohibitive to make a U-turn dismantling legacy systems. He argues the overall observation is that the benefits are greater than the risks. (Shrestha, R., 2011)
The Radiology Department Delivers
For hospitals to garner more revenue it is advantageous to bring imaging in-house by hiring their own radiologists, rather than contracting with them. (Knaub) The Radiology Department has the potential to become the hub of hospital ergonomics. Radiology departments will need to employee the radiologists rather than contract with them. In the short term this could save money on preliminary reads, while aiding collaboration with the physician providers. The involvement…