The days are numbered for patients having to cart their radiographic films or images on CD along to a consultation or for misdiagnoses or delayed care due to lost X-rays. With its state-of-the-art cloud computing technology, Carestream Health (Rochester, NY, USA) is now making images and other medical information available to patients over the internet, empowering them with access to their own data which until now has been the preserve of healthcare professionals only.
Mr. Patrick Koch is Business Director Worldwide, Vue Cloud Services Healthcare Information Systems for Carestream Health. He is overseeing the development of the MyVue patient portal, which is due to be launched at the end of this year. In reply to a question put to him at UKRC, he said the general move towards more consumer-led healthcare was putting patients in the driving seat by providing them with the tools to manage their own healthcare data. But importantly, MyVue offers some significant practical advances over the current system.
“You might have multiple hospitals all linked under the same system,” said Mr. Koch. “If a patient moves from one location to another for treatment, previously, they had to carry a CD or an X-ray film on their person but very soon they will be able to use MyVue cloud to make images available to their clinicians and between hospitals and clinics.”
Carestream’s cloud-based family of healthcare information solutions began in 2008 with ar¬chiving services, but now includes the CARESTREAM Vue Cloud PACS and the Vue Cloud Community. The Vue Cloud Community grants clini¬cians ready access to images and reports no matter where they are located over secure connections both on-site and off-site using the internet. Authorized stakeholders, such as radiologists, specialists, and refer¬ring physicians, have access to the Vue Cloud Community, and by year-end, this access will extend to patients too through My Vue.
This new patient portal will make personal medical information readily available as and when needed. “MyVue has the goal of extending the service to patients, allowing them to view medical images and reports on their own notebooks or smartphones, wherever they can connect,” explained Mr. Koch. The patient portal will not only provide the images but these will be accompanied by the radiologist’s report.
Patients will receive a unique login ID and a secure password, which they will use to access their personal images held in Carestream’s data centers through a link emailed to them. “The patient can personally view material but can also share the link with their clinician if they choose. For example, they may seek a second medical opinion of an image.”
Cloud computing technology also eliminates loss of X-rays: “Currently, patients may return to hospital after a year or longer to find their X-rays have gone missing. By using our patient portal, their images are held securely and they have more control over their own records, so effectively they become empowered,” said Mr Koch.
In essence, cloud technology provides a system that enables Carestream to develop a user-friendly solution for medical images or studies to be held and accessed via the “cloud.” Underpinning the cloud is an assembly of hardware and a series of data centers, which archive material securely for the lifetime of the patient. Mr. Koch explained that as well as serving as a store for an unlimited amount of material, the cloud technology also facilitates sharing of this material. “So it’s like retrieving your emails from a server but in this case, it’s images from the cloud,” he points out.
Come the end of this year, when MyVue is due to be launched, hospitals will have the option of buying the system privately and connecting with their own servers, or they can buy the portal from Carestream data centers, in which case they will become part of the cloud infrastructure.