To gain some context in regard to the nature of this big data, let us try to visualize it. The infographic below , which was originally prepared by NetApp but which has since gained widespread popularity over the internet, provides an interesting quantitative perspective on the current scale as well as the projected scope of this “big data problem” that radiology practices in the healthcare industry faces today.
Given these projections of data requirement growth rates, how must radiology practices act upon this knowledge today..? The right thoughts that should be running through the mind of a savvy healthcare IT professional are, “Should I be investing an inordinate amount of money in upfront capital investment on projected data storage capacities for the next decade, knowing only too well they will stay unused and idle during most of their lifetime..?” Further, notwithstanding the preeminence of tried and tested software available for recovery in the event of a data corruption or device malfunction incident, the unpredictable total costs of ownership over the lifetime of data, which incidentally encompasses maintenance, expansion, backup and replacement or recovery, is far from an alluring angle of owning and maintaining one’s own data-warehouse for medical images.
What if it were possible to benefit from the digital age without having to belabor about shortcomings and unpredictable costs of ownership..? The solution is the cloud-based PACS which facilitates both data archiving and communication for remote access and retrieval of imaging data, entirely hosted in an off-site cloud server, managed and maintained by a HIPAA compliant third-party data-warehousing service provider i.e. the PACS vendor.
While an end-user (client-side) installation of a traditional fully-equipped PACS system would involve a significant lead-time to set up and then an expensive end-user license agreement involving several annual (or multi-annual) scheduled maintenance updates, the cloud PACS services are usually plug-and-play services which are paid for on either an annual (and renewable) basis or a pay-per-patient (or per-access) service model. An important and highly valuable corollary of the fact that cloud-based systems require little to no time commitment from the customer for software or hardware maintenance activities, is that a cloud-based PACS always remains up-to-date as it is maintained by the PACS vendor! Another plus of a PACS-vendor on the cloud is the benefit of secure global access to your hospital data over an internet connection, behind the safeguards of robust protocols for authentication, authorization, and secrecy.
To summarize, a new a cloud-based PACS can potentially offer your radiology practice better control and reliability in regard to imaging requirements outside of offering up huge saving in terms of unnecessary costs of owning and managing unwieldy data management equipment which eventually depreciate annually in terms of their asset value. So, if you’re struggling to keep up with your increasing patient data volumes, consider opting for the smart solution of a PACS-on-the-cloud which will seamlessly and effortlessly scale with your business and keep you at the helm of digital-imaging competitiveness, for absolutely no additional capital expense!
 Big-Data infographic by NetApp: https://communities.netapp.com/docs/DOC-23102 . Also published in the blog of the Institute for health technology transformation,“The body as a source of big data.” Infographic Friday, March 15, 2013. Web: http://ihealthtran.com/wordpress/2013/03/infographic-friday-the-body-as-a-source-of-big-data/ .