Can the cloud help your radiology practice achieve better outcomes?
Although we face radiologist staffing shortages, physicians must still meet the growing patient demand for high-quality radiology services and clinical care. The rising volumes and sizes of studies along with technology costs exert financial pressure on radiology practices. The tedium of monotonous, manual workflows also reduces radiologist productivity and contributes to burnout.
Radiology practices, as well as other healthcare organizations, must evolve to improve service to patients and referrers while increasing revenue and lowering costs. Adopting innovative radiology cloud solutions in your practice can address these challenges while also improving clinical outcomes. Cloud computing solutions can solve the limitations to workflow efficiency for radiologists, increase interoperability within complex systems, and improve the coordination of patient care.
On-Prem vs. Cloud
PACS systems, whether on-premises or cloud-based, are used to support your healthcare decision-making. The primary difference between an on-premises PACS and a cloud solution is the superiority of cost and performance. Other key differences between on-premises PACS and cloud solutions include:
- On-prem PACS are clinically inefficient, with no native intelligence, and limited innovation capabilities while cloud solutions automate tedious workflows, improve diagnostics and allow integration of AI into workflows.
- On-prem PACS also require physical data centers, have limited scalability, security and availability. However, cloud solutions have higher technological performance, with a smaller on-prem footprint, easy accessibility, and dramatically higher scalability and security.
- Cost-wise, on-prem PACS are much more expensive due to hardware, data center, and support staff costs while cloud solutions require just SaaS subscriptions (tiered based on your actual usage) and have no to minimal IT footprint.
- Managing on-prem PACS infrastructure presents financial, compliance, and IT staffing burdens. Cloud solutions, however, have enhanced patient data security processes that are compliant with HITRUST and SOC 2 security standards, enabling hospitals, delivery networks, and radiology practices to focus on patient care rather than IT.
A cloud solution improves your imaging workflows and enables you to provide higher-quality patient care in several ways.
The Radiology Practice is More Distributed Than Ever
Access to on-prem PACS is limited to physical workstations, which require already over-burdened radiologists to be on-site to analyze imaging data or suffer through the reduced performance of a VPN. A cloud solution provides fast efficient access to patient images and data, enabling radiologists to provide location-independent care. Such access minimizes travel constraints to a hospital or practice and increases your bandwidth to cater to more patients. Additionally, radiologists, as well as other healthcare providers, can benefit from high-performant, secure access to imaging data without the need for a VPN.
Access Subspecialists No Matter Where They Are Located
With the flexibility of a radiology cloud solution, patients can access high-quality care even in the most remote locations. The growing democratization of healthcare is pushing providers to deliver convenient, patient-centered solutions that intentionally and effectively address patient needs.
Interoperability and Accessibility
When you analyze vast amounts of patient images, on-prem PACS limits productivity, especially if you must go from one workstation to another to access data. A cloud solution significantly redeems time and allows you to access all the necessary patient data from one screen, improving workflow efficiency.
A cloud solution improves workflow efficiencies and helps reduce radiologists’ frustration by giving them one platform to connect with multiple hospitals, rather than having to constantly log in and out of individual systems. It also allows radiologists to provide quality care and collaborate from wherever they are.
Additionally, cloud solutions use of SSL encryption measures secures the sensitivity of patient data, allowing physicians, technicians, and radiologists to access patient images and records from any device or location.
Robust system security with a cloud solution
Security updates and other maintenance to on-prem PACS is a complicated, costly, and time consuming process as vendors manage hundreds of accounts and IT environments. Because of this, critical software updates are not always possible on their required schedules, presenting security risks to your system. Installing on-premises updates are also cumbersome, especially if the responsible personnel repeat the same process on multiple workstations.
However, vendors that support radiology cloud solutions can push the latest updates as soon as they are available, with no interruption to service, ensuring up-to-date security. Additionally, cloud vendors have access to the latest industry updates and can continuously ensure your solution is up to date for optimal performance.
Key IT Benefits
Radiology cloud solutions provide IT benefits, including:
- Rapid cloud computing speed, with instant deployment of product updates across users
- High availability of cloud systems, with efficient back-up and disaster recovery to maintain business continuity
- Easy installation of cloud solutions, regardless of infrastructure. Deployment only requires installation of a gateway to connect your hospital or clinic, without the need for servers, software contracts or special viewers.
- Option to authorized PACS users to access resources and adjust scalability as desired, without disruptive changes to software or hardware.
- Reduced maintenance and remote installation of upgrades or updates
- Lower upfront costs for storage, application, memory or bandwidth due to consolidation of outsourced IT services to a cloud vendor
- Rapid elasticity due to resource pooling that increases adaptability and allows vendors to adjust capacity without affecting software or hardware
- Improved capital expense flexibility with a subscription-based model, offering adaptability for automated scale-up or scale-down
- Data volume management reduces overloading of data and the burden of storing, managing or transferring data on a daily basis.
AI cloud solutions provide more flexibility than on-premises solutions
The biggest limitation with integrating AI in on-prem PACS is the need for large amounts of infrastructure to support AI or machine learning analysis. Further, it would require expensive infrastructure that would largely sit idle.
However, a cloud AI solution integration is more efficient and can dramatically improve imaging and analysis and enhance patient care delivery. Here’s how:
Maximize radiologist productivity
Radiologists typically perform many time-consuming tasks by hand, some of which include: measuring lesions, tracking size changes, and scoring lesions. A robust AI cloud solution can natively integrate into existing workflows and enable radiologists to adapt to higher workloads, and increased exam complexity while reducing repetitive manual tasks, which increases efficiency and eventually alleviates burnout and allows radiologists to focus on patient care.
Faster Diagnostic and Treatment Decisions
When a cloud AI solution is integrated into a radiology workflow, AI algorithms can:
- Improve the precision, accuracy, and confidence of diagnosis by reducing errors and enhancing reading speed
- Differentiate between imaging biomarkers to accurately predict malignancy
- Flag images with detection anomalies, based on standardized detection metrics
- Identify images requiring prioritized interpretation or quality control second reads
- Automate image reporting and analysis processes such as segmentation and object classification, improving robustness of data generation
Cloud AI solutions help radiologists interpret medical images without compromising accuracy, especially for clinical studies that generate large amounts of data. When integrated into complex workflows such as the cardiac MR image analysis, radiologists can access automated, fast, and customizable reporting that reduces tedium from operator-dependent manual tasks. Such AI integrations can save up to 25 minutes of reading and analysis per study.
Improving patient outcomes
AI-driven radiology tools that are incorporated into a cloud solution can generate new insights into diagnostics and treatment options to improve the accuracy and efficiency of healthcare. Research indicates that AI applications can improve patient outcomes by 30 to 40%.
Integrating an AI cloud solution into your radiology practice also helps reduce false positives that often result in patient anxiety, unnecessary biopsies, and unwarranted surgery to remove tissue. AI helps with ensuring accurate information is available, filtered, and presented to support diagnostic decision making within seconds, which is crucial where time is critical. Additionally, AI can help analyze large, complex datasets containing lengthy medical histories, clinical biomarkers, and physical exam data to support radiologists in accurately diagnosing patients.
How can Arterys help?
Arterys provides AI cloud solutions that can help transform your radiology workflows and enhance clinical value. As the world’s first and only internet platform for medical imaging, Arterys’ objective is to transform healthcare by transforming radiology. The Arterys platform is 100% web-based, AI-powered and FDA cleared, unlocking simple solutions that require only a web browser and an internet connection, all with superior performance and cost.
Let us show you how!