The medical world is a nest of paradoxes, as whilst many hospitals are at the cutting edge of technology and rely on some of the most advanced machinery ever made, they often have a remarkable tendency to rely heavily on old technology.

This has caused some rather infamous issues for health authorities in the past, most notably when the NHS was attacked by a ransomware virus known as WannaCry in 2017 in no small part because a lot of its administration software relied on an operating system made in 2001.

One of the most unusual aspects of this reliance on the old ways is the use of compact discs to provide patients with medical images, as opposed to a more convenient and secure cloud-based system.

A lot of entry-level computers sold today do not come with a disc drive as standard, meaning that a CD is an increasingly outdated way to share patient data and can be more than a little impractical.

It often takes quite some time to request a CD and for it to be burned and made available to pick up by hand at a hospital, which can take considerable time, particularly if the patient needs that information quickly for a referral or lives some distance away from the hospital.

CDs are also quite infamously fragile; whilst they can technically run with holes in them, a slight surface scratch in the wrong place can make data unreadable, meaning they have to go through the whole lengthy process again. They can also simply be lost or be burned in an incompatible format.

Given these issues, why are they still used? It tends to be a matter of outdated thinking and an aversion to complex onboarding processes.

There is an assumption, albeit an incorrect one, that integrating a new technology into the workflow of healthcare imaging will take some time to implement, even though with the right cloud-based solution, sharing patient data records is as easy as preparing a CD and release form.

After the radical changes to telehealth seen in the early 2020s, this will doubtless change, but it is unusual that a technology from 1982 is still so relied upon over 40 years later.

The medical industry has rapidly changed and evolved over the last year to handle the global Covid-19 pandemic. Social distancing has led to medical diagnostic work being undertaken in completely new ways to keep patients and doctors safe.

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NHSThe Royal Free, an NHS Hospital Trust in London, has partnered with Google to use a mobile app called Streams that will alert doctors to patients who exhibit signs of early stage acute kidney injury.

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Chest X-rayAn NHS Trust is in hot water after the Care Quality Control (CQC) identified more than 11,000 vital x-ray images had failed to be reported, raising deep concerns about patient safety.

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Health StudiesA new study from the Medical University of South Carolina and the Ralph H Johnson VA Medical Center has found that telehealth interventions could help veterans with depression.
The research revealed that telemental health is well received by patients and can deliver as good a quality of life as visits in person by healthcare practitioners. Given that just 56 per cent of people with depression will choose to seek treatment, perhaps offering them telemedicine interventions could prove to be more beneficial for them and encourage them to try and treat their condition.
Barriers to treatment were found to be transportation costs, mobility concerns, being isolated geographically, the fear of stigma and missing days of work… all of which could be combated by the use of telemedicine and technology.In this study, treatment sessions were delivered using videoconferencing capabilities at the patient’s home via a standard telephone line and without the need for an internet connection. This could well be a really effective way of addressing the mental health needs of people in rural areas, especially elderly patients.
Dr Leonard Egede said: “It is time for telemental health to take its rightful place alongside in-person counselling as a viable option for depression care, one that will remove many barriers to care.”
This is one of the key benefits to telemedicine and advancements like cloud medical image storage. It can be difficult for people to access their own medical health information and images when required, and it can be just as hard for these to be passed on to medical experts.
Use of CDs is still commonplace for sharing images between trusts and doctors, and these can easily be damaged or lost, which can have a huge impact on patient outcomes. To find out more about how you could benefit from using the cloud in your organisation, get in touch with us at CIMAR today.
Author – Oliver