The changing healthcare landscape demands improvements in how medical images are shared — and electronic sharing is on the radar
- Medical image sharing systems are becoming more important because an increasingly aging population requires more medical attention
- Image files are too large to send over traditional channels like email, and most computers no longer have CD drives
- Interoperability and fast data transfer will become important in delivering good healthcare
- A secure medical image sharing solution is needed to protect against data breaches
A significant and increasing slice of the US population is at an advanced age. To cater to the healthcare needs of this demographic, there will inevitably be increased activity in the domain of medical services.
According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, two out of three older Americans have a minimum of two chronic behavioral or physical maladies. And treating patients with multiple chronic conditions is taking up around 66% of US healthcare spending.
With an increasingly aging population, more attention will have to be given to streamlining healthcare processes — including those involved in medical imaging.
Covid-19 has also attached more importance to medical imaging as imaging helps clinicians decipher whether patients have the virus and the degree of the disease.
Medical imaging sits at a foundational level when it comes to disease diagnostics and treatment plans. With an alarmingly changing landscape of chronic and viral diseases, a dire need to upgrade the prevalent medical image-sharing mechanisms must be recognized.
To better meet the increasing demand for medical imaging, there are two areas that need to be improved:
Speed of medical image sharing
There is a reason why people wish each other a speedy recovery. The pace with which medical issues are treated is often of utmost importance. Many chronic diseases are a race against time.
If there is a gap between diagnosis and treatment, there is an increasing chance of deteriorating conditions. While navigating through different treatment protocols, a sense of urgency has to be evoked to ensure patients get the best possible treatment.
Medical image sharing, whether that involves directly concerned physicians, consulting physicians, or patients themselves, needs to be fluid yet secure. The faster the information is shared, the quicker treatments can begin, and the closer patients are to proceeding with their everyday life.
However, traditional methods of medical image sharing are not keeping up with these needs. Here are some factors that make medical image sharing inefficient.
- Unwillingness to embrace technology
A considerable number of healthcare organizations are still using older methods of sharing medical images. For example, many facilities still rely on sharing medical images by burning CDs. This process is time-consuming and incurs considerable costs. Additionally, many new computers do not come with CD drives, which means burning a CD and giving it to your patient can be futile.
Sticking to these old-school methodologies is not helping these organizations or their patients. Sluggish sharing mechanisms that should be seen as obsolete by now are compromising quality healthcare service. Ditching the disk is a much better option.
There is technology now available that can facilitate faster electronic sharing. Adopting and leveraging the power of the internet and cloud tech can make sharing medical images much swifter and cost-effective.
- Lack of interoperability
Once the medical images such as MRIs and CT scans are uploaded to the digital systems of a particular organization, they may still not be shareable with other medical facilities. This inability to share medical images across different organizations stems from a lack of interoperability.
With digital systems from different vendors, there is always a concern for interoperability issues. A medical viewable on one system may not be accessible on another system or may take more time to process and access.
There are initiatives on different levels trying to codify standardized digital imaging protocols that will ensure images are easier to share between facilities. Interconnected healthcare systems across numerous healthcare organizations will not only ensure rapid data sharing but also make large datasets available — enabling healthcare professionals and policymakers to look at the larger picture.
Security of medical image sharing systems
Extensive use of electronic image sharing will also need appropriate safeguards. Checks must be in place to prevent any possible cyberattacks that may result in a breach of patient health information.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPAA) act serves as a guideline for healthcare facilities to ensure the security of patient information. In the wake of the pandemic, some HIPAA penalties have been temporarily suspended, especially around sharing information with agencies regarding COVID. However, the pandemic has also seen a rise in hacking attempts across the globe. The easing of HIPAA laws under such circumstances should not be a pretext to put the security concerns of patient information on the backburner. This is a time to be even more vigilant to ensure the safety of your patients’ data and imaging.
Healthcare facilities should look to deploy a secure file sharing solution that can ensure the security and privacy of patient medical images. These solutions should have encryption capabilities that safeguard patient data against cyberattacks.
Using email systems to share medical images is not a secure option. Additionally, a file more than 25 MB cannot be attached to most emails. With secure file sharing solutions, you are not only ensuring the security of patient data but also making it much easier to share large files.
Secure file sharing systems mean that medical image files will always verifiably reach the person who has been granted access. Taking complete control of who has access to patient data avoids the risk of data breaches, and secure file sharing options can give you that control.
Share XR is a fast and secure file-sharing solution developed specifically for sharing medical images. The Share XR solution ensures that large data files like MRIs and CT scans can be easily, rapidly, and securely transferred to recipients regardless of where they are located. Contact us for further information.