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Cyber strategy: moving mission-critical radiology systems onto the cloud

November 29, 2016
Health IT
From the November 2016 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

By Scott Seidelmann

Nearly every industry has migrated mission-critical systems onto the cloud. Instead of filling basements with clunky servers, companies are enjoying fee-based services that eliminate hardware costs, reduce the burden on IT and administrative staff support and create access to communities of users sharing best practices, data and services. As a consumer, you no longer buy hard drives to back up your family photos. You press a button and reserve more space “on the cloud.” As business professionals, you have seen cloud-based services offered most notably in human resources and finance, or in customer support with large CRMs, and even with next-generation productivity tools like Microsoft Office 360. Everything is moving to the cloud because it’s proving to be uniquely efficient, more reliable and safer than on-premises solutions, and insanely cheap. And then there is health care. Why hasn’t the cloud been as widely adopted?

Health care (finally) moves to the cloud
Health care is notoriously risk averse and slow to adopt new technologies. You can name a dozen reasons why — regulations and mandates, privacy and security concerns, Personal Health Information (PHI) protection, or fear of the unknown. It doesn’t really matter why it has taken so long. What matters is that we’re here now. Cloud-based services are coming to health care just in time to help hospitals address increasing financial pressure to rein in unsustainable cost increases while improving patient outcomes. The pressure is so acute that health systems have to consider new alternatives.

If your hospital has built its own hardware-based, in-house systems, or has relied on legacy HER vendors, it can mean huge cost burdens every five to 10 years for you to upgrade these systems. It can mean an ongoing burden on internal resources to secure and monitor the system. How can you break that cycle? The only way out is up. Cloud-based solutions offered by pioneers like athenahealth are being adopted more quickly than ever. Hospitals are realizing that cloud-based solutions are not only safe and reliable, they are often the most flexible and cost-effective option on the market.

Radiology: Where do we go from here?
Radiology has always been an early adopter of new technology. It’s a 100 percent digital service line, and heavily reliant on software and infrastructure solutions to help easily share and store massively-sized images. Once the hospital’s biggest profit center, radiology is now faced with the same acute financial pressure as the rest of health care. Declining reimbursements and value-based care delivery models are forcing hospitals to think creatively and judiciously about the people and products supporting this service line.

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