Cloud Computing for Image Transfers

Multiple Steps Address Security
Cloud computing helps ease the exchange of diagnostic images while maintaining adequate security, says Amy Radonich of University of California San Diego Health System.UCSD Health System is using cloud computing to exchange diagnostic images with area hospitals and imaging centers, such as when accepting the transfer of trauma patients.

Using the new technology enabled the academic medical center to end the old practice of obtaining CDs containing images, Radonich explains. Sometimes CDs sent along with trauma patients were misplaced, corrupted or damaged, she notes.

Now that images from a referring organization can be downloaded from cloud storage, "We inform our trauma team that these images are available before the patient has even arrived here," she says. This enables them to be much better prepared to make treatment decisions, she notes.

In an interview with Howard Anderson, executive editor of HealthcareInfoSecurity, Radonich:

  • Explains how referring facilities and UCSD use technology from Electronic Medical Information Exchange, or EMix, to upload and download diagnostic images and reports.
  • Provides details on all security steps related to using cloud computing for storing images. These include physical security at the vendor's data center, multiple firewalls for the server that houses the images and data, authentication of every user and the use of encryption for transmission of images and data.
  • Describes the system's auditing capabilities. "I have a very robust ability to see exactly when and where we're sending and downloading and who is downloading our information as well," she notes.
  • Advises others considering cloud computing to gain buy-in from multiple departments. "The most important thing is to ensure that not only the PACS [picture archiving and communications system] team is comfortable with the security and the methods of transmission and the multiple methods of authentication, but also the office of information security. ..."

Radonich is assistant director of imaging services at UCSD Health System. In this position, she manages imaging informatics for radiology and cardiology and oversees the digital library at two hospitals. She has 10 years of healthcare informatics experience and is a Certified Imaging Informatics Professional.

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