By Don Dennison, CIIP, FSIIM
Medical imaging is a dynamic field, evolving with new technology and changes in the way healthcare organizations deliver care.
There are several areas — such as cloud-based hosting of IT systems, applications that use Artificial Intelligence (AI), multimedia reporting, and others — where the impact of technology and industry can be seen.
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Healthcare professionals working in imaging IT have also seen changes in their careers, driven not only by new technologies, but from evolving expectations from their organizations.
The idea of cloud-based hosting has been around for some time now, but the technical capabilities are rapidly advancing. Within medical imaging IT, there can be several different drivers for an organization to host their imaging IT solution, like their PACS, in the cloud.
Some organizations may have a directive to reduce their data center usage — for example, if the data center is located on land better suited for patient care facilities or is outdated. For others, it may be simply a matter of cost comparison.
For many enterprises, it is difficult to develop a realistic model to reflect their costs in comparison to a cloud-hosted model. While cloud hosting fees cover all kinds of IT infrastructure build and maintenance, as well as facilities costs, many enterprises do not have their current (or projected future) internal costs clearly defined. Collecting these costs can often be challenging, depending on how costs are accounted for; or sensitive, as labor rates reflect employee compensation.
It is not uncommon for different perspectives on the use of cloud within an enterprise. For example, staff directly responsible for IT infrastructure may prefer to keep applications hosted on-premises, as this is their work responsibility (outsourcing may mean a reduction in their group’s staff). Other roles, often more senior, like a VP or the CIO, may approach the decision more strategically, seeking cost savings. Vendors would do well to try to understand the roles of stakeholders and their perspective on cloud before promoting its use — depending on the audience, the information may be welcome, or not.
Finance department staff, who will be interested in both capital and recurring operating expenses, may also have strong opinions on the impact of cloud-hosted solution costs on how budgets are managed, along with the bottom line. Not all enterprises are set up to shift much of their accounting or budget planning and approval processes from one-time capital to ongoing operating expenses.