Advances in medical informatics and cloud computing were headliners at the recent Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine (SIIM) annual meeting.
The opening talk covered the “top ten trends” in imaging informatics. Four of the trends were directly relevant to a cloud-based service for sharing medical images and reports. Speaker Katherine Andriole, Ph.D., director of imaging informatics at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, discussed ways that informatics could provide needed reforms for radiology.
As Andriole noted, the trends of cloud computing and image-sharing are related. With services like eMix, images and other medical information are increasingly being shared via the cloud.
This approach overcomes the longstanding problem of how to trade images between facilities whose IT systems don’t talk to each other. It improves upon such older workaround solutions as burning the files to CDs or sending them on virtual private networks (VPNs).
Another trend Andriole discussed was optimizing workflow. Using eMix is about as easy as emailing a cool Web link to your friend. It replaces the time- and labor-intensive process of burning files to CDs and sending them via courier or express mail, or uploading them to VPNs.
With VPNs, an IT staffer generally has to babysit the uploading process and will usually spend a significant portion of his/her work time just maintaining and troubleshooting the networks.
Finally, Andriole showed how cloud-based sharing of medical files is addressing public concerns about radiation overdoses. The general press has reported on overdose problems at hospitals around the country throughout the last year, including the overuse of high-dosage modalities like CT scans.
Sharing files by burning them to CDs is a significant reason for redundant CT scans and other redundant imaging. That’s because the files are sometimes lost in transit, don’t open if they do arrive, or arrive too late to be useful in emergency cases.
Transfers using the cloud take just a few minutes and open dependably. As Andriole also said, this kind of technology promises to keep repeat imaging to a minimum and thereby minimize the radiation overdoses. Reducing the risk of radiation overdose while optimizing trauma care, for example, is one reason UC San Diego is now using eMix.
Thank you, Katherine Andriole, for informing the SIIM audience about the multiple benefits of cloud-based file-sharing.