A well thought out medical image storage strategy can save medical facilities time, money, and patient lives
- There are 5 basic factors for a successful medical image storage strategy: vendor neutrality, data encryption, scalability, compliance with standards and regulations, and leveraging The cloud
- Your storage strategy should be vendor-neutral to allow shareability within your medical organization and also beyond it
- The medical image storage system should have a system for encrypting image data to ensure data privacy and security
- With a continuous accretion of medical image data, medical organizations must have a scalable and cost-effective storage solution.
- Primary importance should be given to ensuring that your medical image storage option is compliant with regulations such as HIPAA, HITECH, and FDA.
- Medical facilities should look to benefit from the advantages cloud technology offers. The technology can be pivotal in terms of disaster recovery, shareability, and cost-effective medical image data storage.
Choosing the right medical image data storage system is an important task faced by healthcare facilities. If a medical image storage system is unable to match the healthcare organization’s requirements with modern exigencies, it will only translate to recurring problems and financial losses.
To implement a medical image storage strategy that can serve the organization well into the future, five factors should be kept in mind:
Vendor neutrality and shareability
One of the most important issues is vendor neutrality and shareability of images between systems. Storage systems that are bounded by proprietary protocols and software limits result in siloed medical image data. Such data has a narrow range of access and cannot be shared across different systems.
Vendor neutrality makes it possible for medical image data to be easily accessed across different systems. It enhances data shareability, which comes in handy for collaboration within a facility or beyond its walls.
An added advantage of vendor-neutral and standardized storage systems is that they allow organizations to easily switch systems if a need arises. If you have a vendor-restricted system, migrating to another storage system can be a time-consuming and costly procedure, and it may not be possible to get images out of one system and into another. Therefore, healthcare facilities should always look for medical image data storage solutions that have standardized frameworks to allow interoperability with different vendors.
Medical image data storage solutions that are based on cloud technology offer enhanced data shareability. Cloud-based storage options can make data accessible to authorized entities regardless of their location.
Encryption and security
In the digital era, data breaches are a frequent occurrence and a threat to organizations across many industries. The healthcare sector has proven to be one of the most vulnerable to cyberattacks and data thefts. In such an environment, medical facilities cannot afford to have their patient data compromised as it not only results in loss of patient trust but also financial penalties.
Whether you opt for an on-premises medical image data storage solution or off-site, cloud-based option, it is imperative to have your patient data securely encrypted. All possible measures should be put in place to block any unauthorized access to patient data.
The care required to ensure data security is not only limited to the processes underlying its storage but also while it’s being shared with specialists and patients.
Ensuring that you have the right checks and balances in place can help you maintain patient data security.
Scalability and cost-effectiveness
When it comes to storage, medical image data typically occupies a much larger digital space than other forms of data. And the advent of enhanced image detail now calls for an even more scalable digital storage solution.
The prevalent digital storage systems today are overburdened with the task of not only storing freshly captured medical images but also retaining old and inactive patient data. Over time, these storage systems become overloaded with data and an upgrade becomes necessary.
Constantly overhauling on-site data storage hardware to cater to your ever-growing storage demands is not a financially prudent approach. Harnessing other technologies that offer convenient scalability while simultaneously being cost-effective is a much better option.
Cloud technology has the potential to provide economical scalability for medical image data storage. With this technology, you only have to pay for the storage space you require, which rids you of the need to maintain an extensive on-site data center.
The use of an off-site data storage solution can result in savings of up to 50% compared to an on-premises arrangement.
Compliance with regulations such as HIPAA and HITECH
Medical image data storage is regulated by strict industry standards. Opting for data storage solutions that are non-compliant with healthcare regulations can lead a medical facility to troubled waters. It is crucial for healthcare organizations to be aware of the regulations pertaining to medical image data storage.
The Health Information Privacy and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a federal regulation that makes it mandatory for healthcare professionals to ensure the security of patient health information. Non-compliance with HIPAA can result in considerable financial penalties.
Another act, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH), promotes the use of practices that protect electronic health records from data breaches. HITECH non-compliance can fetch you an initial financial penalty of $250,000 — reaching up to $1.5 million for repeat offenders.
To save yourself from any unforeseeable data breaches and fines, industry regulations should be assigned considerable weight in your image storage strategy.
Cloud technology and disaster recovery of data
Cloud technology is coming to the forefront for the varied set of advantages it provides when it comes to medical image data storage. A cloud-based storage solution ensures that the data remains safe even in the event of a disaster because it has servers located at multiple locations. Medical organizations can also opt for a hybrid data storage option that utilizes both on-premises and cloud storage to safeguard patient data.
Store XR is a medical image storage solution that can be customized to the specific demands of a healthcare facility. It is a secure, HIPAA compliant, cost-effective, and easy-to-use system. Contact DICOM Director today for more information.