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The Benefits of a Medical Image Archiving System in the Cloud

Medical imaging has seen significant improvements in the last several years. From portable MRIs to 4D imaging, today’s technology offers greater detail and resolution. This, in turn can improve patient care with more in-depth testing, diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring. With such improvements, however, comes the need for equally impressive medical image archive solutions. Simply put, greater detail = increase in size of files. Current methods of storage within most healthcare organizations remain decidedly out of sync with modern imaging technology. Cloud architecture offers a viable solution capable of providing the reliable, scalable, and secure options for today’s healthcare organizations.

Exactly what are the Advantages of a Cloud-Based Medical Image Archive?

A cloud-based medical image archiving system holds a variety of advantages over traditional methods. This approach is inherently more scalable, secure, and affordable. Below, we highlight these and other top benefits of implementing an advanced medical image archive solution in the cloud:

Ability to Offer Disaster Recovery and Day to Day Imaging Access

Reliable disaster recovery protocol is critical in the event of a catastrophe. Unfortunately, healthcare organizations have a tough time allocating the type of funds necessary for a traditional disaster recovery approach. There’s good news however! Many healthcare organizations are turning to cloud-based solutions for both archiving needs and secure daily access of medical images.

Should the worst-case scenario arise, cloud-based solutions allow medical professionals to secure necessary images and other data in a matter of minutes. These images can be accessed from electronic medical records, lending that much more convenience to what could otherwise prove a slow and painstaking process.

Not only can healthcare professionals count on cloud-based architecture to improve emergency access to medical images, they can feel confident that the information they seek through cloud archives will be accurate and up-to-date. Updates such as name changes should be included in image record back-ups. Patient demographics should also remain up-to-date; this is more easily achieved in a consolidated cloud archive.

Bedside Access

Mobility is a big deal in the modern healthcare industry. Clinicians have grown accustomed to accessing critical data anywhere and at any time. While this accessibility once primarily pertained to text-based data, imaging plays an increasingly vital role in the quest for better bedside patient engagement. Cloud-based solutions allow medical professionals to build stronger, more trusting relationship with patients, because they can easily access the images they need before they enter a patient room. Patients in turn appreciate the increased responsiveness and personalized care that cloud archival makes possible.

Legal Access

Medical image archives serve far more than a purely diagnostic purpose. These records may be called on in a variety of legal situations. Legal preparedness is critical; when deadlines loom, healthcare organizations cannot be caught fumbling for records that should be immediately available.

The traditional method of attempting to pull medical images from CD or tape makes it very hard for some healthcare organizations to get the information within a reasonable amount of time. Object Storage in new Medical Archives however makes it easier to locate the exact information you are looking for and utilize this as a critical source of defense in the event of a medical malpractice lawsuit, helping to prove that healthcare professionals abided by a proper standard of care. Additionally, digital images can easily be retrieved and displayed in a courtroom environment, where they have the power to influence high-stakes cases.

Security

Security is a huge concern for healthcare organizations, which have suffered their fair share of breaches and malicious attacks in the last several years. Healthcare organizations however have been slow to adopt cloud storage for fear that it is less secure than traditional means. Recently a legal expert, Adam Greene, put forth his opinion on the matter stating that he believes that expert cloud providers are very capable of providing a secure medical image archive system. Greene warns against taking too much stock in those who “express caution that cloud service providers may have a higher risk because they are a greater target of hackers and other unauthorized persons. He offers an excellent analogy to clarify this concern: “Is the bank robber more likely to try to break into Fort Knox because that is where the money is, or the bank that leaves its rear window open at night?” Ask yourself, is your rear window open, do you even know?

Scalability

Quickly expanding healthcare organizations require modern solutions that can grow alongside them without compromising access, security, or return on investment. Cloud archiving is an inherently scalable solution that can be adjusted as needed to account for rapid growth or other unanticipated changes.

Today’s healthcare organizations no longer need to struggle under the weight of unmitigated data expansion or seemingly excessive compliance requirements. Solutions such as Scality Ring Object Storage offer the capacity needed to expand data to an exponential extent while still providing immediate and reliable access to the cloud.

Accessible Data

Accessibility is crucial in the medical industry, where a few minutes can make all the difference for vulnerable patients and hardworking clinicians. Unfortunately, traditional archival methods such as tapes and disks are prone to hardware failures, which could leave critical data completely inaccessible when it’s most urgently needed.

Internal errors can also strike traditionally stored data at any time. This lends a vulnerable edge to medical records — a frustrating reality for healthcare professionals who require constant, uninterrupted access. With the trends in cloud storage improving healthcare access to medical images, clinicians can take solace in knowing that necessary data will always remain well within reach — even in the event of an emergency. Cloud-based accessibility is reliable regardless of time zone or geographic location. This, in turn, promotes better patient care.

Price

Healthcare organizations tend to use the same technology to store the same images for years on end. Cloud architecture, however, allows modern healthcare organizations to make strategic decisions for storing records affordably. For example, you can still store a large volume of data, but you can make choices about where that data is housed. Recent medical images that have compliance requirements can be stored on a cloud with the necessary security and accessibility. Data not required for compliance purposes can easily be stored on less expensive clouds, where they will remain accessible if needed but not necessarily a chief matter of priority.

The status quo will do little for healthcare organizations looking to improve patient engagement and with it HCSHPS scores. Better access to medical images could make all the difference for patients, hardworking medical professionals, and ultimately, your bottom line. Reach out to Comport today to discover how you can implement a more effective medical image archiving system.

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