Radiology as a practice uses many software suites which tend to be expensive for every hospital and imaging center to purchase for exclusive use. A safe and economical option would be to use them in conjunction with a cloud service by purchasing licenses for requisite software packages.
Cloud computing will free radiology from the confines of the hospital and help the doctors be available across locations. Cloud computing in its nascent form came in 1960s. J.C.R Licklider used the term interconnected grid of computers and John McCarhy had discussed the concept of using computers for public use. Cloud computing as we know it today is using an interconnected grid of computers allowing sharing of resources by using internet as a medium.
Radiology Information System (RIS) is a network suite of software which help in managing medical imagery and associated EHR data for sharing and quick retrieval. This data can be hosted in a closed community cloud, which will be accessible to only the interconnected hospitals/ imaging centers that can choose to team up to use the common cloud infrastructure and software packages. A provider can offer this as a software as a service (SaaS) also. A Cloud-based system can provide a software platform for RIS, PACS, remote image review software (teleradiology), advanced 3D workstation software, and billing. This also allows for forgoing the costly upfront costs, and uses the pay per use model giving you access to the most advanced and diverse software options, at a quarter of the price. This allows radiologists to concentrate on their practice and patients, rather than on where the service is hosted, processed or routed.
Common concerns surrounding RIS and how the cloud offers a solution
|Store and access data out of hospital premise||Frequent server crashes and slow connection||A cloud enabled RIS, PACS, teleradiology and billing unit|
|Remote reporting by radiologists||Poor hospital internet and LAN infrastructure||A cloud system enables teleradiology at no extra cost by pushing images to the cloud|
|Real- time 3D and 4D CT and USG scans||Purchasing expensive software for each system||Cloud acts as a gateway to peripheral system|
|Access to scan reports at different hospitals, if the patient chooses to consult elsewhere||Incompatible software, different machines etc.||Cloud enables secure access to images on a need basis.|
|Digitizing RIS for better patient care||Finding the optimal RIS and customizing it as per need in a secure manner||Stores RIS and software to be made accessible across locations|
Benefits of cloud for RIS
- Role of IT administrator: With cloud services and SaaS options, the dependence on an IT admin reduces dramatically, as most technical tasks are taken care of by the cloud services provider and the SaaS vendor.
- Costs: Software licenses and hardware costs do not have to eat into profits anymore. A Pay per use model will help in curbing expenses and bringing down initial costs.
- Virtual Solution: Using a cloud solution for RIS or PACS helps to convert radiology to a virtual solution. One where a radiologist will be analyzing and sending his report over the cloud, sitting miles away. This will boost teleradiology services, and help patients in remote locations gain access to better radiology services.
Before moving to a cloud solution, there are some aspects of the cloud which need to be understood. Firstly, data security and privacy of data, especially when concerning confidential patient data, is the top priority while storing, transferring and connecting with the server. Secondly, a security audit and premise security understanding is essential when dealing with cloud storage services. Pick a vendor who has a policy in place, and moreover one follows through with the practice. Thirdly, a server failure or database error is not impossible with a cloud service, hence, a vendor who offers disaster recovery services and automatic secure backups will be extremely beneficial.
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