Cloud Brightens Radiology

While healthcare reform will make immediate changes in the medical landscape, one aspect of care is still evolving only slowly. The problem: Most patient information remains on paper, stored away in files. Even most electronic patient information remains in silos – and is often not readily accessible, with appropriate privacy safeguards, to caregivers who need it.

Radiology, which generates most of the information in an electronic health record, has traditionally relied on proprietary picture archiving and communication systems (PACS) to store and transmit patient info. While PACS will remain central to radiology, much of this information will eventually migrate to the “cloud” of digitalized info that can be uploaded and downloaded remotely – again with privacy safeguards – to and from websites and servers.

This month has seen the official commercial launch of eMix (“electronic medical information exchange,” http://www.emix.com). It’s the leading new application for sharing radiology images and reports, but it certainly won’t be the only one.

eMix solves a problem that has vexed medical imaging: how to securely share radiology data between proprietary PACS and other IT systems that don’t “talk to each other.” The solution: Use cloud computing to make data sharing as easy as sending and receiving email. The service was created by DR Systems, a client of Dowling & Dennis PR.

As RHIO’s (regional health information organizations) evolve into HIE’s (health information exchanges), they’ll have to figure out how HIE members can easily and inexpensively share patient information. Given how hard this is to do institution-by-institution or state-by-state, it seems inevitable that HIE’s will look to the cloud for the solution.

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