Managing medical data in the cloud: 10 reasons to get started
The digital transformation in the German healthcare sector is picking up speed. With the DigiG and the GDNG, the Bundestag passed two important laws at the end of 2023, to promote digitization. Why hospitals should start managing their medical data in the cloud now at the latest: an argumentation guide.
10 cloud benefits for hospitals
More relaxed staff, more satisfied patients, reduced IT infrastructure costs: moving medical image data to the cloud brings various benefits - and it is no longer a question for hospitals and doctors' practices, at the latest since the passing of the landmark legislative package to promote digitization. Instead of "if", the only question now is "when".
Telepaxx Medical Data has been following developments closely for years - particularly with regard to image data management in hospitals and imaging specialties such as radiology and cardiology. This article should convince even the last critics of the numerous advantages of cloud use over local data storage and software installation.
The introduction of cloud solutions for image data management, and therefore for the area that generates the largest amounts of data in the healthcare sector, is a decisive and far-reaching step for hospitals. Thanks to the cloud, they gain decision-making and data sovereignty, increase the efficiency of internal processes and improve access to important medical data. This increases the quality of patient care and puts them at the forefront of digital transformation.
Digital laws at a glance
Since 2020, the German hospital future act has regulated the financial support for providers during the transformation, including through the promotion of cloud infrastructures. In December 2023, the Bundestag also passed two key laws: the Act to Accelerate the Digitization of the Healthcare System (Digital-Gesetz or DigiG for short) and the Act on the Improved Use of Healthcare Data (Gesundheitsdatennutzungsgesetz or GDNG for short).
1. Accelerated digitization
Cloud-based solutions can be introduced quickly via standard internet protocols such as HTTPS. Integration into existing system landscapes can often be realized within a few weeks - without setting up complex hardware.
2. Dynamic scalability
In view of the rapid data growth in medical imaging, hospitals need a storage solution that grows with their needs. The cloud offers them precisely this flexibility and scalability.
Practical example: In hospitals that work with Telepaxx, the volume of new data stored each year has quadrupled over the past ten years. This is due, for example, to the increasing image quality or the multiplication of images per examination. Efficient image management in radiology is therefore essential.
3. Reduction of internal IT costs
Maintaining your own server landscapes requires extensive resources 24/7. By outsourcing storage solutions to the cloud, IT staff, who are already stretched thin, can concentrate on critical systems. This minimizes the operational effort - and relieves the HR department in the search for additional specialist staff. According to the job portal stepstone.de, 12,500 IT jobs in the healthcare sector were vacant in January 2024 alone.
4. Foreseeable costs
Instead of investing in expensive, high-maintenance hardware, cloud services offer predictable, regular costs. Billing according to usage and storage volume enables hospitals to adjust their expenditure in line with actual requirements.
Practical example: Clinics pay a fixed monthly fee for a long-term archive as an Archive-as-a-Service from the cloud. As soon as capacities are exhausted, the IT department can expand the storage service on an ad hoc basis. At the same time, there are no additional costs, e.g. for server cooling and maintenance. It may even free up rooms that were previously used as server locations.
5. Increased data security
Thanks to professional providers, the cloud offers a higher level of security than most local solutions. Multiple redundant data storage and advanced data center protection measures ensure the integrity and availability of patient data. The cloud is also superior to local servers when it comes to the physical protection of data, for example against natural disasters and fire.
Practical example: Hospitals are increasingly becoming the target of cyberattacks. One of the most recent examples, Frankfurt University Hospital, took three months to get the consequences of a hacker attack under control. The expansion of cyber security subsequently tied up additional IT resources.
6. Flexible data access
Cross-location data access without complex network setups and virtual private networks (VPNs) makes the cloud particularly attractive for hospitals or practice groups. The TMD Cloud, for example, enables simple, browser-based access and secure exchange of image data across specialist departments and facilities.
7. Integration of AI applications
Modern diagnostic tools, especially those based on artificial intelligence, require strong computing power and data availability. The cloud is the ideal platform for taking full advantage of AI software. Other web-based applications such as a viewer or the PACS can also easily access the cloud data.
Practical example: Several AI classifiers can also be integrated directly into the existing image management processes without a complex IT project. Telepaxx cooperates with the AI platform deepc, for example. Telepaxx customers thus benefit from the first vendor-neutral cloud-to-cloud connection.
8. State funding opportunities
With the Hospital Future Act (KHZG), the state is specifically promoting the development of cloud infrastructures, which benefits hospitals both financially and organizationally. Hospitals can still commission approved funding projects until the end of 2024 - even if they only fully implement them after the deadline. Find out more about how the KHZG promotes hospital digitization.
9. Simplified networking
A cloud solution enables simple connection to existing systems - even if the DICOM standards alone are not internet-capable. The simpler data flow promotes networking within facilities and the healthcare system in general, avoids unnecessary duplicate examinations and redundant data storage in different locations.
10. Increase in satisfaction
Fast and uncomplicated access to medical data via the cloud increases patient satisfaction, creates transparency, makes work easier for medical staff and gives IT managers more leeway when choosing suitable software tools (best-of-breed approach).
Cloud technologies as a foundation
Cloud technology therefore forms the backbone of a modern, efficient and secure data infrastructure in the healthcare sector. It supports hospitals in meeting the challenges of the digital future.
Do you have questions about the cloud?
Feel free to contact me to find out how you can manage your medical data in the cloud independently of applications.
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