Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Is Cloud Computing Annoying?

Ms. PACS: Has anyone seen him? The PACSman I mean. I filed a missing person's report, posted his face on a milk carton, but still no sign of him.

Of course, he must be moonlighting on some other blog. I don't mind being cheated on, as long as you're honest about it (oxymoron?).

Well the only thing more frustrating about him running off with another blogger is the pretentious attitude of IT "geeks" (they love to be called that) when you talk to them about cloud computing. They act like you are so behind the times, or just a moron, because cloud computing has been around for awhile. Didn't you know?

Even when you say you realize Amazon, Google and Facebook, which you've been using for years now, are clouds (because someone recently tipped you off), you're still scoffed at. But for you PACS admins, what business are you in anyway? This is health care. It's always been a decade behind the consumer curve when it comes to IT. Blame it on incentives; compared to consumer markets, there is less in health care.

Let's face it, much of the PACS user interface is a rip off of Adobe Photoshop anyway. How's that for being an early adopter?

Besides, cloud computing may be yesterday's news amongst IT geeks, but it is still relatively new to PACS and even advanced visualization for medical imaging. Ergo, it is relevant in radiology today. And should be in radiation oncology where image volumes are going through the roof. But who knows when the RT image management systems will catch on. And when it does in will be relevant too. So lose the attitude.

Speaking of lost, have you seen the PACSman?

What about cloud economics.
The adoption of cloud-based architecture is assured if it benefits hospitals financially. This makes it very relevant.

A cloud environment enables ubiquitous access to programs, reduces the dependence on the users’ bandwidth and computer power and eliminates the danger of obsolescence.
This may be a scary step, but it would enable hospitals to share infrastructure with systems linked together. This would reduce cost, plus force interoperability, which is still lacking today.

Another benefit, you don't have to pay up-front costs for apps if it offers pay-per-use pricing. You don't have to upgrade your PC. You don't have to upgrade your hardware or networks.

If you don't like a vendor, you can easily switch - once there are enough cloud-based apps to choose from in health care. Another bonus is there is less of a threat of obsolescence because data centers and on-site technology can be continuously maintained and upgraded. That also removes barriers for vendors, allowing for more start-up Web services and more competition, which tends to favor the end-user.

It kicks in speed too. The cloud leverages available bandwidth and local computing power to optimize performance and speed. So now radiologist may be able to work faster and process more of those exams. That's what radiologists want - to be able to read more exams and make up for reimbursement cuts. Or is that the administrators' agenda?

Let's look to the cloud icons, and trend setters in IT. The Google's App Engine will let you run whatever program you want - as long as you specify it in a limited version of Python and use Google's database. I can run everyday programs like Word and Excel on Google and store it all right there. But you can't save your document to a folder, and you can't start a new document in a folder. That's REALLY annoying. We suspect Google is trying to rid users of the concept of folders. But then how do you organize things? Through search? What if I can't remember the name of the doc? SOL?

Sorry to be annoying, but cloud computing is not just trendy, it is relevant in health care and will change how you use your PACS - it will now be a service you access online. Talk about disruptive technology - I guess that's annoying too.


  1. > cloud icons and trendsetters...benefits

    ...and what about reporting the potential "cloud" cons?
    Look at recent incidents with Google, Facebook, etc. for examples of "cloud" abuse and potential for abuse...

    What about Security, Patient Privacy?
    And related to privacy, who "owns" the patient related data? Who is responsible for it?

    It would be nice if each patient or someone who has responsibility for the patient (if the patient were incapacitated) were at least given the opportunity to "own" his or her data via some kind of "private key" mechanism.

    Currently, the data is for the most part confined to the individual health care institutions and their information systems. This provides a certain degree of security and privacy (obviously depending on each institution's implementation within their network), and a definite line of responsibility.

    There is much to be addressed before health care institutions should even consider jumping on the "cloud" bandwagon.

  2. I look forward to reading your new blog about pacs systems. I've found a lot of other blogs but they're not as entertaining as yours. I;m excited to see that you're mixing your personal stories with new information on pacs.

  3. More and more people are starting to use a picture archiving and communication system. I know that in my area, use of PACS have skyrocketed. It will be very interesting to see where technology takes us next.

  4. I've considered purchasing a new pacs system for the office.