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Tech advances pushing health IT systems to the cloud

Despite significant on-premise investments, IT managers are increasingly attracted to the flexibility and range of services offered in the cloud.

Jeff Rowe | Dec 13, 2017 12:00 am

One of the ongoing challenges for health IT managers is determining how to balance the goal of keeping up with specific technological advances with that of taking advantage of the efficiencies and flexibility of the cloud.

Take medical imaging, for example.  Writing recently at The Next Platform, writer Nicole Hemsoth points out that while medical imaging “is one area where hospitals have invested significantly in on-premises infrastructure to support diagnostic analysis,” they’re increasingly confronted by the question of how the cloud can enhance their imaging programs, and what that means for how they configure their IT systems.

As the cloud continues to mature, she says, “the build versus buy hardware question gets more complicated.”  According to Raghu Vemula, VP of Engineering at Nuance, an increasing number of hospitals are answering this question by shifting to public cloud options.  

“Contrary to popular belief,” Vemula explained to Hemsoth, “large hospitals are increasingly shirking away from managing their own on-site compute in favor of cloud. The size of cloud companies, their ability to partner, innovate, and upgrade, as well as the increased security has driven this shift, particularly in medical imaging and radiology. Further, the complexity of the AI stack and hardware acceleration makes hospitals less likely to want to stay in the hardware management business.”

Seeing an opportunity for automated image analysis, Hemsoth writes, “Nuance is building a collaborative platform that takes processed medical images and generates final signed legal reports that drive patient care—a revolution indeed when one considers the humans in the loop that have historically been required in every step of this workflow.”

Over time, said Vemula, on-premise infrastructure for radiology is not going to offer the agility in terms of scalability and upgrades the the public cloud will.