Non-network cloud-based radiology offers better approach
The article “Proponents see cloud technology transforming radiology” (Oct. 6, p. 17) presents an interesting use of cloud-based radiology, backed with practical examples of networks that are employing this model. Because the model encompasses cloud-based file storage and exchange, it seems at first blush to be a significant advance beyond cloud-based exchange services.
However, I believe that the cloud-based service for medical information exchange that our facilities have been using since 2010 has fewer limitations than—and several advantages over— the model the article discusses.
The primary limitation of the model in the article is that the cloud-based storage system has limited access. That is, access to images and files is restricted to members of the network and further restricted by whatever contractual relationships that bind the network.
That network may be quite large, such as the 200 members the article portrays. But the article offers a relatively limited view of what’s possible when leveraging cloud-based technology. This scenario does not benefit patients and/or caregivers outside that network. For us, the cloud has opened unlimited opportunities for ad hoc noncontractual collaboration among colleagues, whether or not we belong to the same network and regardless of geographic considerations, and independent of software platforms used.
Suppose a member of the network described in the article confronts this everyday scenario: A new patient is admitted to the hospital with imaging studies relevant to their case—but the images and reports reside at a non-network facility. Some out-ofnetwork means will have to be employed to make that information available to the hospital so the patient can be treated in a timely manner.
Our enterprise and others leverage a vendor-neutral cloud-based service to satisfy this requirement. We can send imaging studies and reports to, or receive files from, anyone in the world at any time over an Internet connection, simply by providing a recipient’s e-mail address. This transmission is near real time. The files are transmitted via a zero download application, and can be accessed by either a zero download viewer or downloaded into the recipient’s own repository and viewed from there. If downloaded, the files can be accessed and manipulated like any other file, and can also be archived. The transmission is HIPAA-compliant, SSLencrypted and fully secure.
For those of us who have long been exchanging radiology files this way, the cloud-based radiology future is already here.
Dr. Michael Trambert Lead radiologist for radiology information technology Cottage Health System and Sansum Clinic Santa Barbara, Calif.