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Can the Cloud Move to the Mainstream in Health Care?

Why is it time to think about the cloud for medical Imaging

Imagine Jim, who’s had a CT scan and then is diagnosed with a stroke at the hospital. Although the on-call neurologist is at another hospital, and outside the hospital system, he accesses Jim’s radiology images on his mobile device, in real time. Upon review, the doctor learns that Jim had an aneurysm months before. He’s able to call a neurosurgery colleague who is making rounds at the same hospital and they review Jim’s images together on a laptop and tablet using cloud-based technology.

The cloud allows these two doctors to begin an assessment on Jim before ever examining him, thus improving efficiency and possibly saving his life. When Dr. Smith meets with Jim he examines him and then discusses a treatment plan. He uses his tablet to visually explain the radiology images and he’s able to make the abstract 2D CT images more real by using 3D imagery to help show Jim what has happened to him.

The cloud is moving to the mainstream.

“The cloud” may still be a foggy notion for some, but in 2011 as many as 71 percent of healthcare providers were planning to or had already deployed technology for storing their data remotely for anytime, anywhere access, according to a KLAS research study. Healthcare CIOs are looking to the cloud as a practical, secure and cost-efficient solution to manage the staggering amount of patient data, which continues to increase at an alarming rate of 20-40 percent per year.

In addition, many are finding that the cloud is the right solution to ensure timely compliance with federal regulations that require a rapid shift in data management practices and technology.

To help providers evaluate their technology options, this new ADVANCE column will explore why the time is right to make the shift to cloud medical imaging and to give a better understanding of the benefits, best practices and security. We’ll look at various ways healthcare organizations are using cloud services to integrate picture archiving and communication systems (PACS), the advantage of mobile technology, and how to improve services such as remote patient monitoring, and improve patient care.

In the second part of this 2-part series, I’ll talk about how the cloud:

  • Lets providers use data to create a more patient-centric system
  • Is cost- and resource-efficient
  • Can help provide  state-of-the art, HIPAA- and HITECH-compliant security
  • Enables mobility for clinicians to provide virtually anywhere-anytime access
  • Is a realistic solution to address Stage 2 Meaningful Use requirements

So what about you? How are you seeing the cloud being used in healthcare? What advantages do you foresee for deploying this technology? What cautions need to be in place? We look forward to your comments.

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More Stories By Steve Caniano

Steve Caniano is VP, Hosting, Application & Cloud Services at AT&T Business Solutions. As leader of AT&T's global Hosting, Application and Cloud infrastructure business, he is instrumental in forging key partner alliances and scaling AT&T's cloud services globally. He regularly collaborates with customers and represents AT&T at key industry events like Cloud Expo.