As a relative newcomer to radiology, I was impressed by the range of advanced imaging technologies showcased at the recent UKRC meeting in Manchester. But in practical terms, it could be argued that the images are only as good as a system’s ability to store them and make them readily available to clinicians (and even patients) when and where needed.
I can only comment that from a journalist’s perspective, but my productivity is tightly associated with my access to information wherever I am in the world – so much so that my lap top is the first thing packed in my suitcase. Forget the toothbrush- just not my indispensable means of accessing the Internet.
And that’s just journalism. It begs the question of how clinical medicine with consequences for patient lives has managed with paper and film until so recently? Perhaps the answer is simply that they haven’t, and rather that they have struggled, and that cloud technology could not come quick enough.
It’s timely for other reasons, too. Accessing images and patient reports over the Internet goes hand in hand with the explosion in data volumes. As testament to this unprecedented growth in the need to document patient data, a recent analysis by researchers Frost & Sullivan estimates the European patient data storage market will reach $2,473.0 million in 2017.
Quoted in the analysis press release, Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Somsainathan says, “as the resolution of images becomes higher, data volumes swell, thereby increasing the need for advanced data storage. Data sharing is becoming a vital component in healthcare delivery to ensure uninterrupted and highly efficient treatment of patients, irrespective of their demographic location.”
From a clinical perspective, improved storage and access can only benefit patient care. No more lost images, speed of decision making because data is available across distant locations, and improved patient understanding of their disease are all upsides.
At UKRC I had the opportunity to speak with Patrick Koch, Carestream’s Worldwide Business Director for Vue Cloud Services, about patient empowerment in image sharing. Patrick says the huge surge in gadgets like smartphones and iPads makes it easy for patients to enter the clinical knowledge framework. “A patient portal like Carestream’s MyVue* allows them to view medical images and reports wherever they can connect,” says Koch. “The general move towards more consumer-led healthcare is putting patients in the driving seat by providing them with the tools to manage their own healthcare data.”
You can read my full interview with Patrick on MedImaging.net.
What do you think? Is patient empowerment the next step in image sharing?
*MyVue is a works-in-progress