If digital cloud technology proponents have their way, the field of radiology will be transformed, with major changes in who does the work of reading images, and where and how it's done.
Instead of storing images on local IT infrastructure and sharing images through physical means such as compact discs, cloud radiology allows storage and transmission of images through an off-site network of computer servers. This model makes it easier to back up files and access those files through multiple devices, without the fear of losing the data if an individual device is compromised.
Experts say that will enable hospitals, medical groups and health IT firms to organize radiology practice in different ways that reduce costs and improve quality. It may mean more hospitals outsourcing the reading of images to external networks of radiologists or other specialists. The turnaround time on reading images may be significantly shortened. And shipping costs and maintenance costs for local storage infrastructure could be reduced.
Increased efficiency may mean increased competition, fewer scans and fewer radiology jobs. A growing number of companies are entering this business and offering cloud-based radiology services to hospitals.