Clinical imaging resources are under pressure. Mounting patient numbers, increased regulation, and the need to safeguard patient information, yet at the same time embracing new diagnosis techniques and expanded screening programmes, is taking its toll. Taking a holistic approach could be the answer
Clinical Imaging has become a vital part of both preventative and diagnostic healthcare. Whether it is a simple X-ray to identify a broken bone or injury, or an ultrasound or MRI scan as part of a screening programme, imaging has a role to play in almost every patient’s journey.
The quality of medical imaging within a hospital or trust is obviously vital. The capability to share images and information with clinicians and other professionals is also important.
With resources often stretched to breaking-point, being able to distribute a detailed scan and get an expert’s view on what it shows could be really valuable to an outpatient clinic, community hospital, GP surgery, or district nursing team. Not only in terms of time saving and efficiency, but also – and more importantly – patient care.
Where and how medical images are stored also needs to be considered. Individual images can be very large, and with thousands being taken every week, the physical storage requirements are immense. If large images are being sent and received frequently, that could have an impact on overall network performance, which could affect other users and departments.
At all stages of the process, images and related data must be fully protected, so that only authorised personnel can access and view them.
These are significant and growing challenges for hospitals and trusts. Rising patient numbers, the introduction of new treatments and techniques, and increased scrutiny and regulation, are combining to exert more and more pressure on staff and resources.
This is driving an urgent need for solutions that are more integrated, scalable, secure, and affordable. Ticking all those boxes is not easy, but hospitals can’t let their standards slip. Nor can they afford to see costs running out of control. At the same time, they need to focus on what really matters and what they are ultimately judged upon – patient satisfaction and outcomes.
A digital transformation
The best way of addressing these challenges is to look at them holistically. All medical imaging systems are, in essence, digital. By transforming the underlying infrastructure and management layers, a single integrated system for clinical imaging can be constructed. This will allow smoother workflows and simple, fast and secure sharing of images and data between departments, medical professionals and practices. It will also optimise the use of IT resources.
A well-designed and managed hybrid infrastructure – that uses both on-premise and private cloud resources – can provide the right platform. This is a platform where networks and storage solutions specifically for clinical imaging can be run. As well as improving efficiency, scalability and reducing costs, through the use of intelligent applications and machine learning, it should also be possible to support improvements in diagnosis and the accuracy of treatment. In the end, that is what really matters.
More information on SCC’s clinical imaging solutions is available here.