February 2010

Cloudy With a Chance of Data

By Jim Knaub
Radiology Today
Vol. 11 No. 2 P. 3

Cloud computing became a major buzzword in 2009, including at RSNA.

The concept of using off-site servers, typically maintained by an outside company, to store and manage data for an organization located elsewhere isn’t new; it just has a catchier name. A few years back I toured what was then simply called a data center or server farm (being careful not to step into any digital doo-doo). In hindsight, I was walking in the clouds, which is a much nicer metaphor.

In this issue, we report on two new cloud-based services unveiled at RSNA. Dan Harvey writes about two companies planning to use the cloud as a place to exchange and store medical images and records. DR Systems’ eMix and lifeIMAGE both are launching services to exchange images and records among facilities or organizations, regardless of whether the facilities use different PACS and IT systems.

The idea is that my facility sends its images, reports, and other records to your facility via a secure system in a format that your facility can import into its own system as desired. If effectively implemented, sending a CD with the patient or mailing it to another facility can be replaced with systems based on e-mail, FTP, and cloud computing.

Creating this secure communication layer between two facilities or organizations rather than having them communicate directly is an interesting approach to interoperability. And it may work by sidestepping some manufacturers’ concerns about making their systems communicate better with others’ equipment. It also may avoid the legitimate concern that healthcare organizations have about granting other organizations access to their computer networks.

And Beth W. Orenstein writes about an outpatient single-session embolization of multiple pulmonary arteriovenous malformations. Interventional radiologist Scott O. Trerotola, MD, discusses how the treatment effectively streamlines care for patients with these dangerous blood vessel malformations.

And don’t forget to check out our new digital magazine format available through our Web site at www.RadiologyToday.net.

Enjoy the issue.