Before Children’s of Alabama began using the cloud to exchange medical images, we once had a surgeon run across the street at 2 a.m. with a CD to get a resident’s medical opinion. There was no way to have the “attending physician” read an image from home in the middle of the night and that’s what the patient needed. The technology was just not there in healthcare, yet.
Today, cloud-based image sharing is rapidly gaining popularity in healthcare with more than 3 billion medical images exchanged between facilities that use the Nuance PowerShare Network to quickly and reliably share medical images of patients in the U.S.
As a PACS administrator at the third largest pediatric medical facility in the U.S. exchanging information is part of my job. In 2012, we turned to the cloud to help solve this medical imaging problem so we could provide better support to our rapidly-growing network of healthcare providers and patients.
First, we introduced the cloud-based image exchange to the trauma physicians then to our emergency department physicians. Word spread like wildfire when other physicians heard they could get patient images on the fly. Within two months, we had 500 percent more users asking to exchange medical images via the cloud, and extended beyond central Alabama to Nashville, Atlanta and facilities outside the state.
Today, we receive X-rays, CAT scans and other patient images in seconds with 200+ physicians, 80 hospitals and more than 125 clinics and physician offices using the Nuance PowerShare Network instead of transferring images via CDs.
This is gaining widespread adoption because it supports:
1. Quality of care: Losing a patient’s vital information has a major impact on patient care, especially in a trauma situation. While transferring patient medical images via CDs is still the most common way it’s done, they are unreliable. Corrupt CDs are very frustrating to physicians and IT staff, and impact patients through delayed treatment and repeat testing, which expose patients to additional radiation.
Healthcare providers want to do what’s right for patients. Once they hear there is a better approach, 99.9 percent of them want to join us in sharing images through the PowerShare Network.
2. Improved efficiency: This has taken physicians’ minds off whether or not they can access an image, allowing them to focus on treating patients. Because the Network allows immediate transfer of medical images between hospitals and physicians, clinical decisions can begin before the patient arrives. Most people don’t realize that 30-50 percent of decisions to transfer patients would be different if imaging studies were available for review up front.
More than once we’ve saved parents a 2-3 hour drive and the stress of a weekend trip to the hospital by having a radiologist review a child’s images remotely using the cloud. When the results came back completely normal, everyone breathed easier and it avoided a lot of unnecessary time, money and heartache.
This is the future of healthcare. Why should physicians or patients wait hours or even days for results to come when using the cloud for image sharing makes it so much faster and easier for everyone?