Recent advances in cloud computing will revolutionize how individuals and companies store and access data. The “cloud” has many implications for mHealth, with the potential to increase efficiency and cut costs for both patients and providers.

Last week, AT&T announced that Baptist Health System in Alabama and Henry Ford Health System in Michigan have signed on to pilot the new cloud-based medical imaging and information management service. With this system, physicians will be able to access images quickly, regardless of which device took the image. AT&T claims that this system will both lower costs for health systems and increase physicians’ access to diagnostic imaging.

In theory, a cloud-based system to access medical images has many advantages. One important benefit is the potential to streamline the process of getting an image from the scanner to the physician. At each stage, there are a multitude of systems involved – from the different imaging platforms to the different EMR’s, there are many steps that complicate the process and can result in technical delays that waste time. As any physician who has ever received an inter-hospital transfer patient or an outpatient provider who has requested imaging CD’s knows, the system is prone to inefficiency and failure.

If physicians and technicians are able to access and read images from any device via the “cloud,” they would not have to worry about disconnected imaging systems. Furthermore, as the FDA approves more systems like Mobile MIM, physicians could quickly access imaging from wherever they are over WiFi or a 3G network.

AT&T’s pilot program is an important step for cloud computing and its incorporation into mHealth. If mobile providers can establish a reliable and secure network for the transmission of sensitive medical data, health systems could save money and improve efficiency. This reliability and security, however, is of the utmost importance. With the explosion of mobile health technology has come questions of protecting patient information and ensuring system reliability.  And for that, the AT&T pilot program should be very informative.

Source: MarketWatch  [link]