Cloud-Based Image Storage on the Rise

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cloudAbout 600 million imaging procedures are performed in the U.S. annually, according to the Wall Street Journal, and they need to be archived somewhere.

To that end, some providers, instead of investing heavily in their own storage solutions, are choosing to pay the up-front charge and monthly usage fees associated with storing images on the cloud, WSJ reports. Fifteen percent of healthcare systems are using cloud-based storage for images, according to consulting firm Accenture, which estimates that percentage will increase to more than 50 percent in the next three years.

Proponents say that the cloud--by allowing providers to store, view and share images over a secure network--reduces the need for duplicate images (with the added advantage of exposing patients to less radiation associated with medical imaging), and helps physicians make faster diagnoses while also lowering costs.

On the other hand, Nadim Daher, an analyst at consulting firm Frost & Sullivan, tells WSJ that privacy and security concerns remain barriers to wider adoption of cloud storage services.

For instance, security concerns about proprietary data and applications are among the reasons the healthcare industry has been slow to adopt cloud technology, according to a survey unveiled in February by Vernon Hills, Ill., technology vendor CDW.

And last year, Diagnostic Imaging reported on a healthcare data management survey by BridgeHead Survey that found the lowest ranking IT priority for respondents to be cloud storage. According to the survey, 48 percent of the respondents said that concerns about security and availability of patient data were preventing them storing on the cloud.

According to Daher, cloud-storage vendors store images in multiple sites, which means healthcare providers don't know where the data is sitting, and don't have oversight regarding viewership privileges. That, Daher says, means that vendors need to assure potential customers they are in total compliance with cloud security practices and patient privacy laws.

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