Technology needs in healthcare are constantly evolving. Security, accessibility, and compliance are at the top of everyone’s priority list because patient privacy is a must-have, but having the right information at the right time is of equal importance. With the recent popularity of cloud services in several other industries, healthcare organizations must decide which of their systems – if any – are appropriate for the cloud. In the case of medical imaging, CDs and DVDs can be a cumbersome and unreliable method for sharing images. For this reason, many hospitals and imaging centers have begun looking into on-premise or cloud solutions to streamline their image sharing efforts. As with any important decision, they must weigh the pros and cons of each option. The top three things to consider when selecting an on-premise or cloud-based medical image sharing software are cost, data, and control. Let’s look at each in a bit more detail…
On the surface, cloud-based software may appear to be a cost effective solution for medical image sharing because its pricing is based on usage. For a site that sends or receives a very low volume of studies, this could be an advantage. But for a large hospital network that shares thousands of studies per year, those costs could spike after hitting a threshold set by the vendor. In this situation, there could be significant overages because these variable costs were not initially budgeted.
In addition to ongoing expenses, healthcare organizations must consider the start-up cost of image sharing software. An on-premise solution may have a higher price tag in the beginning, but the costs will remain steady over time. In many cases, hospitals and their affiliated clinics have already invested heavily in their IT infrastructure and could benefit from leveraging existing equipment and personnel to manage a self-hosted solution, rather than outsourcing to a cloud vendor.
Backing up data is just as important as keeping it secure. On-premise servers allow organizations to control how, when, and where sensitive patient information is backed up. Depending on the vendor, any data that has been back up in the cloud may not be accessible for days or even weeks, should some type of outage take place.
One final aspect of this decision-making process that may be overlooked is the element of control. Utilizing the cloud for medical image sharing means that an organization must not only trust the vendor with sensitive patient information, but will also give up control of the related security policies and protocols. Working with a vendor that provides a self-hosted solution means the software is owned and managed internally; therefore, all of the decisions regarding how it is used and protected are up to the discretion of each healthcare organization.
Ultimately, any vendor you choose must be a partner in protecting your patient privacy and maintaining your business operations. By carefully considering cost, data, and control as you evaluate software for medical image sharing, you can ensure that you’re making the right decision for your organization. What are some other things that have weighed heavily on your selection of a vendor or product?