Patient Safety and Cloud Computing

There are loads of advantages to cloud-based sharing of medical data, but bottom-line, it’s about patient safety, says radiologist Murray Reicher, M.D.

Writing in the latest issue of Patient Safety & Quality Healthcare (“Riding the Cloud to Improve Patient Safety,” November/December 2010), Reicher says that sharing data via the cloud makes it possible to move information much faster than old methods. This can save patients from unnecessary procedures and radiation – and in emergency cases, potential injury from delayed treatment. (Full article at http://psqh.com/novemberdecember-2010/684-information-exchange.html.)

Dr. Reicher is the founder and chairman of DR Systems, which created eMix, one of the first of the new cloud-based medical information sharing services. He’s also a practicing radiologist.

In the article, Dr. Reicher describes a number of common scenarios that can harm patients because the conventional ways of sharing data – such as burning files to CDs and sending them by express mail – are too slow and clumsy. For instance, if doctors assigned to an emergency patient need to see a prior CT scan from another facility before starting treatment, the patient’s condition could worsen while they wait. In other circumstances, facilities might re-image a patient whose files can’t be obtained in time, which exposes the patient to extra radiation.

Cloud-based data-sharing such as eMix addresses all these situations because it moves data quickly on the Internet, which also overcomes the hurdle of incompatible, proprietary IT systems at different facilities. It is also secure, trackable, and affordable because it is priced on a low, per-use basis without any software or hardware purchase. It is versatile, too. Besides medical institutions, the files can be pushed to patients’ computers, doctors offices, and other remote locations.

“The limitation is no longer the technology itself but simply the speed of adoption,” Reicher writes. The rest of the business world is catching on – 20 million businesses and more than a billion people use cloud-based services, he says, citing a Microsoft claim. His gentle nudge to his own industry: Get with the program!

Full article — http://psqh.com/novemberdecember-2010/684-information-exchange.html.

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