Why We Love Cloud Storage (And You Should, Too!)
02.12.15

Why do we love the cloud? Because cloud-based storage systems have changed the way you can interact with a PAC System. Capacity, reliability, and security are the three components of an ideal storage solution, and all three of these qualities can be found in a cloud-based storage system. Without a doubt, cloud-based storage is the future of PAC Systems. Below, are just a handful of the reasons we love the cloud:

Scalability

Fixed storage limits are a thing of the past with the cloud. The cloud allows you to easily increase or decrease your storage requirements depending on current demand. This means you can buy what you need and pay for only what you use. Unlike local storage options, you do not have to plan for the day when your storage limit is met. Upgrading the capacity of a cloud-based storage system is as easy as a few clicks.

Accessibility

With the cloud, you are no longer stuck with local, fixed storage options. Because all of your data is stored over the Internet via the cloud, it’s easy to access files from anywhere at any time. On-site servers require complex configurations in order to provide secure outside accessibility compliant with HIPAA provisions. With the cloud, secure outside accessibility is built-in.

Security

Cloud storage provides peace of mind for its user. The responsibility of file security falls on the PACS provider hosting your data. All data on the cloud is continuously encrypted and backed up, and sharing files is simple—secure access may be granted to any individual user at any location with an active Internet connection.

Disaster Recovery

You never have to worry about losing files when using cloud storage. Data in the cloud is regularly backed up. This includes redundant storage, which keeps multiple copies of a file in the event the most recent version is lost or corrupted. Freeland’s cloud storage service is built upon the backbone of the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud Computing software.



Five Ways Your PAC System Is Killing Your Productivity
01.29.15

PAC Systems are intended to make your practice more efficient, but choosing the wrong vendor could end up negating the efficiency that PACS technology was supposed to provide. The following are some of the ways that your PAC system could harm your productivity:

Segregated Reports

Is your PAC system still using a non-integrated report mechanism? As long as your PAC system is stuck on a report mechanism that keeps images and reporting tools separate, you will continue to spend valuable time sorting and searching for patients’ medical records. This not only impedes the level of care and attention you are able to give your patients, but there is also the potential for misappropriation of sensitive medical data. Save yourself time—and liability—by employing a PACS that offers integrated reporting as part of its package.

Single Machine Use

Are you only able to access and transmit medical information from a single, onsite machine? The promise of a PAC System to grant you easier access to medical data is limited if that information can only be sourced from a single, onsite machine.

Single Server Use

Is your PACS data stored on a single server that can only be accessed from one location? If your PACS data is housed on a single server, your ability to source and transmit medical information is directly related to your proximity to that server, which is a detriment to productivity. In recent years, there has been a significant departure from traditional onsite server use to cloud-based storage for PAC systems. With the cloud model, you will be able to access and transmit medical data securely from practically anywhere and potentially with any device, including tablets and smartphones.

Lack of Vendor Neutral Archiving Capability

Is your PAC system able to interpret medical information from other systems? Your productivity could be obstructed if your PAC system is only able to decipher images and reports that are compatible with its system. Your inability to translate a medical report from a different PAC system directly affects how well you are able to dispense medical attention because it slows down vital external communications with other specialists.

Limited Data Storage Options

Are you limited by how much data can be stored on your PAC system? With the numerous options for unlimited storage, your PAC system should not be restricted in its storage capacity. Employ a PACS vendor that uses cloud-based storage, which is virtually limitless, to ensure that you are not spending valuable time and resources in maintaining the appropriate storage bandwidth for your practice.

Your PAC system should help you create a culture of optimal service and high efficiency at your practice, not hinder your productivity. Use this knowledge to ensure that you are implementing the right PAC system for your practice.



Where PAC Systems Are Headed in the Next Five Years
01.22.15

PAC systems allow for the storage and convenient access to images from multiple sources. Moreover, because PAC systems transmit information digitally, items such as manual storage, file retrieval, and the physical delivery of medical files are now virtually extinct. Even with these advances, PAC systems continue to improve as new technologies emerge. Here are a few ways in which PAC systems are expected to change in the next five years:

Anywhere, Anytime Access

Although medical imaging has come a long way from film jackets and other physical copies of information, there is still room for improvement in how PAC systems make information accessible to physicians and patients. Combined with available and emerging web technology, PAC systems are expected to further enhance anywhere-and-anytime access through information sharing using cloud storage. The move from onsite storage to cloud-based storage will allow physicians access to medical records from virtually anywhere—at home, at work, and from smartphones and tablets. This eliminates the physical and time barriers associated with being tethered to a single onsite storage medium. Users will be able to access medical data at any time and from anywhere that has Internet availability.

Cloud Storage

Most PAC systems use onsite storage on a single server to store information. Recently, however, there has been a departure from this traditional storage method to cloud-based storage, which houses data virtually and permits access to the data via the Internet. As this new method of storage continues to gain popularity, PAC vendors are expected to move from on-premise, single access storage systems to the cloud model. Moreover, because cloud storage is easily scalable, storage will expand to cope with increased use, making data storage practically unlimited.

New Compliance Capabilities

The security of stored data and data in transit has always been a concern when handling sensitive information on the cloud. As a result, PAC system security and compliance capabilities are consistently evolving to inhibit unauthorized access, use, error, or information loss. PAC system vendors continue to fine tune the technology to ensure that patient confidentiality is respected at all times. As PACS technology gradually develops over the next few years, physicians, technicians, and administrators can expect to observe stricter adherence to the privacy safeguards presented in the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Moreover, data loss will become a thing of the past because information will not be limited to a single server that is susceptible to crashes and other unexpected malfunctions.

Integrated Reporting

The future of PACS technology also includes integrated reporting. With the functionality built in to notate and make edits, physicians and other health administrators can ensure that they are responsibly linking information to correct patient records. Integrated reporting will also eliminate misappropriation of sensitive medical information and enhance the level of care that physicians are able to afford their patients, particularly in diagnosing disease.

Vendor Neutral Archiving

Vendor neutral archiving is steadily establishing itself as part of the medical imaging technology mainstream. With vendor neutral archiving, physicians and other medical administrators will not be limited to viewing only those images and documents that are compatible with their system. Instead, all information of any clinical relevance will be stored and readily available in a standard format with a standard interface that can be interpreted by any medical imaging system available.

Even though PAC system technology is light years ahead of film jackets and paper folders, much of its potential is still being developed. However, this is good news, because as PACS technology continues to grow, so will the quality of medical services.



Nine Capabilities Your PAC System Should Have
01.15.15

Outfitting your practice with a PAC system can be a significant investment. As such, its benefits should bring a tremendous amount of value to your practice. To help you source the right vendor for your office, we have compiled a list of nine capabilities your PAC system should have.

1. Integrated Image Review and Reporting

In the past, reports and their respective images were kept separate, but as PACS technology has evolved, report integration has become more important. Integrated image review and reporting means that your PAC system is not in danger of misappropriating sensitive medical information. It also increases efficiency because study data can be populated directly into the report.

2. Seamless Network Integration

To have a truly central repository for all documents with any clinical relevance, you want your PAC system to be able to access any image from any system or network. Additionally, you want a PAC system that can be implemented easily and with minimal disruption to the current pace of your practice.

3. Multi-modality

Your PAC system should have the capability to conveniently access and store images from multiple modalities, such as digital x-ray’s, tomographic images, magnetic resonance images (MRIs), and so forth. This will eliminate the need for other image storage media and minimize the time spent searching and organizing patient records suitably.

4. Anywhere, Anytime Access

Your PAC system should offer capabilities for off-site viewing and reporting. It should also enable colleagues and other specialists in different physical locations to simultaneously access the same patient data in a timely manner.

5. Editing Tools

PACS technology offers the ability to notate images, highlight text, and perform any number of editing functions within patient records. Ensure that your intended PACS vendor offers this capability as part of its package to further streamline and improve your workflow and productivity.

6. HIPAA Compliance Capabilities

Respecting patient confidentiality is of the utmost importance. Consequently, your PAC system must adhere strictly to the prescribed privacy safeguards of the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Your system should provide password-protected access to encrypted data, and only those with the proper authority should be able to access PACS data via the Internet.

7. Secure Web Delivery

When investing in a new cloud-based PAC system, ensure that your provider has appropriate security measures in place, especially in cases where a private cloud is not part of the package. You should be able to track and record data for auditing purposes. Additionally, data that is in transit must be encrypted using Secure Socket Layer (SSL), and web connections should use https: protocols to inhibit the activity of hackers.

8. Historic Comparisons

Most traditional PAC systems do not offer simple historic comparisons of patient information. However, to ensure that you are providing the best, individualized care and attention to your patients, it is imperative that your PAC system have the capability to house all past and present medical data for each patient in one electronic portfolio. Past conditions may sometimes dictate the best plan of action for a patient’s current complaint. As a result, historic comparisons are vital for accurate diagnoses.

9. Customization

You PAC system should be fully customizable to fit your needs. Your intended PACS vendor should offer custom interface development services to meet your unique specifications. Just as all patients must be treated individually, your PAC system should not be a one-size-fits-all mechanism.



Eight Things You Can Stop Worrying About With a Cloud PAC System
01.08.15

As web technology has evolved, the storage and sharing capabilities of cloud-based PAC Systems have made the management of privileged medical information more convenient and economical while remaining secure and compliant.

Below are a few things you’ll never have to worry about if you switch to a cloud-based PAC system:

1. You don’t have to worry about accessing patient data only at the office

With cloud-based data storage, you can access information anywhere and at anytime. Cloud storage eliminates the physical and time barriers associated with being tethered to a single onsite storage medium.

2. You don’t have to worry about on-site server maintenance

With cloud-based data storage, you won’t have to spend valuable time and resources maintaining cumbersome equipment or having a technical support unit on retainer.

3. You don’t have to worry about being locked into a single system or server

The ubiquitous and convenient nature of cloud-based PAC systems means that you won’t be restricted to a single system or server. Internal team members and external colleagues and specialists will be able to easily access the same data simultaneously, eliminating any wait time and increasing expediency in communications.

4. You don’t have to worry about upfront payments

Setting up an on-site system for all your PACS needs could mean substantial upfront costs. But with cloud-based PACS, those costs can be avoided. Most cloud-based PACS vendors offer a range of payment options, including monthly payments, per study payments, and one-time fees. Based on how the system will be used in your office, you have the option of choosing which payment option is most suitable for you.

5. You don’t have to worry about problems when sharing files with reading physicians and collaborators

Cloud-based PAC systems make information sharing easy and expeditious. From the cloud and with the appropriate access rights, you can share and receive files from multiple modalities, in any format, and from any interface.

6. You don’t have to worry about disaster recovery plans and maintenance

Because the cloud model makes your PACS data accessible from anywhere and at any time, you won’t have to worry about creating and implementing a control for disaster recovery and maintenance. If you’re unable to access data on one device or browser, it is an easy fix to simply switch to another device or browser.

7. You don’t have to worry about installing physical software

A cloud-based PAC system does not require physical installation of the software. Implementing an office-wide system switch is as easy as opening a web browser and typing in the location of your cloud storage.

8. You don’t have to worry about ensuring the security of your PAC system

Your PACS vendor is responsible for ensuring that all data that is being transmitted and used over the web is encrypted and protected appropriately even if you are using a shared network. Because you no longer have to worry about the security of your PACS and the safety of the information stored therein, you can devote even more of your time to providing the best, comprehensive medical care available.



A Tour of cPac
05.15.14

Ever wondered what cPac and cPac Pro look like? Here’s a visual tour through some of the highlights. If you’d like to see more, use our demo request form to request a one-on-one demo session with our cPac team.

 

cPac users login at the portal home where we share the latest news and additions to the application.

cPac users login at the portal home where we share the latest news and additions to the application.

 

The patient search screen allows users to search using many data types. These include web studies, name, date range, read, unread. etc.

The patient search screen allows users to search using many data types. These include web studies, name, date range, read, unread, etc.

 

The image viewer allows users to view photo and videos from an easy to use web interface.

The image viewer allows users to view static and dynamic images from an easy to use web interface.

 

Image thumbnails are accessed using a drop down menu so you have instant access to individual frames and files.

Image thumbnails are accessed using a drop down menu so you have instant access to individual frames and files.

 

The report editor allows for the entry of patient demographics, measurements and observations.

The report editor allows for the entry of patient demographics, measurements and observations.

 

Observations can be chosen from a defined list and notations are easily added to the selections.

Observations can be chosen from a defined list and notations are easily added to the selections.

 

When complete, you can preview your report directly in the browser before finalizing.

When complete, you can preview your report directly in the browser before finalizing.

 

cPac also features a "Data Miner" tool which uses specific parameters to pull useful data. Queries include: display all patient exams that were done during last quarter, how many echo studies we done last month, how many studies did a specific doctor read, etc.

cPac also features a “Data Miner” tool which uses specific parameters to pull useful data. Queries include: display all patient exams that were done during last quarter, how many echo studies we done last month, how many studies did a specific doctor read, etc.



Traditional PACS vs. Cloud PACS – 8 Key Differences
05.08.14

How it Works

  • Traditional PACS
    A traditional PAC system uses local storage solutions to store patient digital images and related data. In the local storage model, the server connects directly to an array of hard drives that provide quick access to patient files.
    These files are saved directly to the server as they are created.
  • Cloud PACS
    A cloud-based storage solution uses an offsite, online method to store patient digital images and related data. Patient files are automatically streamed into the cloud as they are being created. Authorized users can access the data anytime, anywhere, as long as there is an internet connection.

Storage

  • Traditional PACS
    In the traditional model, the hospital or facility houses the server and all related hardware and software onsite. They have complete control and ownership over the infrastructure. This is convenient, but it also means that the facility has the full responsibility to operate and maintain the PACS. The facility must also ensure that the server has sufficient capacity for an increasing number of files.
  • Cloud PACS
    The cloud model uses virtual storage to house data. A cloud vendor, who is often the PAC system vendor, maintains all of the hardware and software at an offsite location. The client can then access the data via the internet.
    Cloud storage is easily scalable. The use of dynamic provisioning allows the cloud to grow with the organization.

Access

  • Traditional PACS
    Physicians, technicians, and administrators access a traditional PACS by logging into the server. To access the PACS, the computer or work station must have the PACS software and access to the server. Sometimes there are limited workstations dedicated to the PAC system. Although this can help increase security, it limits where data can be accessed.
  • Cloud PACS
    Physicians, technicians, and administrators access a cloud-based PACS by logging into a secure PACS application over the Internet. Anyone with proper access rights can access PACS data from anywhere with an Internet connection. This enables physicians to work remotely and allows for the quick and easy transfer of patient data during referrals.

Disaster Recovery

  • Traditional PACS
    There are several back-up options for traditional PAC systems; however, they require significant management and expense. One option is to back up patient files on various offline media, such as tapes, DVDs, hard drives, or other removable devices, and then send the media to an offsite storage location. This results in a lot of work effort and the potential for longer downtimes. Another option is to use an Application Service Provider (ASP) for onsite storage. This transfers some of the responsibility to the ASP and spreads out the cost over time.
  • Cloud PACS
    Virtualization provides automated disaster recovery at no additional cost. Files are automatically stored on the cloud as they are created. This automated process increases standardization, which results in more reliable and repeatable disaster recovery processes. The entire hosted cloud, including the servers, software, network configuration, and security, are replicated to an offsite disaster recovery cloud. In addition, the cloud recovery solution provides the ability to rapidly restore systems, databases, and applications, which reduces recovery time after a disaster.

Cost

  • Traditional PACS
    Traditional PAC systems tend to have higher initial costs. The hospital or facility must incur the initial hardware and software costs. They are responsible for implementation and maintenance of the entire storage infrastructure. This means they must pay for IT staff to maintain the server and storage costs, any equipment upgrades, and increases in storage. However, after the high initial cost, the average monthly costs tend to be lower.
  • Cloud PACS
    Cloud storage technologies can save clients a considerable amount of money on both capital and operating expenditures. It enables the client to consolidate multi-vendor storage resources into one single pool of storage, which saves in storage costs. Maintenance and repair costs are significantly lower because most of the hardware and software is managed by the vendor. In addition, cloud PAC systems often offer a variety of payment options, such as pay-as-you-go.

Security

  • Traditional PACS
    In the traditional PACS model, the facility is responsible for implementing and managing the security of all the files, images, and information. This includes ensuring that all security measures meet or exceed HIPAA requirements. Facility staff must provide proper user access rights and ensure that all data is securely encrypted.
  • Cloud PACS
    It is important to ensure that the cloud provider has appropriate security measures, especially if you are not using a private cloud. The client should carefully review the SLAs and consider requesting a security audit. All data in transit must be encrypted using Secure Socket Layer (SSL) and all web connections must be encrypted using https: protocols.

Benefits

  • Traditional PACS
    • Offline access
    • Total ownership and control
  • Cloud PACS
    • Improved collaboration process
    • Image sharing in real-time
    • Anytime, anywhere access
    • Built-in disaster recovery

Challenges

  • Traditional PACS
    Operation is dependent on maintaining storage volume and ensuring data redundancy.
  • Cloud PACS
    Accessibility is dependent on the Internet bandwidth and the volume of images.



PAC Systems and Disaster Recovery
03.13.14

Patient care does not stop when a disaster affects data availability. Picture archiving and communication systems (PACS) and electronic health records (EHRs) are a vital component of healthcare informatics. Readily available image data and health records are critical to a facility’s operation. Their protection is also a regulated requirement. This is even more important as more hospitals and clinics share data. 

Traditionally, disaster recovery solutions were a tedious and expensive undertaking. One option was manually backing up information to tapes and sending them offsite. This resulted in a lot of work effort and the potential for longer downtimes. Another traditional option has been to replicate data at an offsite data center. Although this method provides for a more automated process and quicker recovery, it requires a significant investment. Storage equipment must be purchased in large volumes to keep up with the growing PACS and EHR records, and equipment lifecycles must be maintained. In addition, space at a remote data center can be expensive. There is also the concern that the remote data center may be affected by the same disaster. 

Secure cloud disaster recovery and archiving solutions, which are now available with many PACS and EHR systems, make disaster recovery an easier solution for administrators. Information is backed up with every keystroke, so you can ensure that your data is available without manually maintaining your back-up architecture. Cloud disaster recovery solutions have a number of benefits over the traditional model. 

Low Cost of Ownership: Initial costs of cloud disaster recovery tend to be lower because there is no need to make a large investment on equipment, data center space, and expanding tier 1 storage. Instead, cloud services allow you to pay-as-you-go. Cloud storage is easily scalable, so it grows with your organization. In addition, it frees up your organization’s IT staff for other tasks because service providers often offer 24-hour service and support. 

Automated DR: Virtualization provides automated recovery, reducing the risk of errors in a manual recovery process. Automating disaster recovery through virtualization increases standardization, which results in more reliable and repeatable recovery procedures. It is a more dependable solution than a traditional DR model because the entire hosted cloud, including servers, software, network configuration, and security, are replicated to an offsite disaster recovery cloud.

Rapid Recovery: Another cloud disaster recovery solution benefit is the ability to rapidly restore systems, databases, and applications, reducing recovery times after a disaster.

Security: Disaster recovery solutions are available with secure SSL data encryption and HIPAA-compliant security levels.

Of course different cloud-service PACS and EHR service providers have their own service offerings, and it’s important to choose a vendor that is right for your organization. Make sure that the vendor will sign a business-associate agreement for HIPAA compliance, and ensure that the vendor provides necessary data encryption and security levels. Then, look at how the data is stored, how quickly data can be accessed and retrieved, and how often data is duplicated. The more highly available your data is, the more it will cost, so look for a service level agreement suitable for your organization.

 



Freeland Systems Launches cPAC – A Cloud-Based PACS Solution
02.06.14

cPAC, the newest addition to the AccessPoint family, is now available from Freeland Systems. cPAC utilizes cloud computing and browser-based environments, allowing you to have all the functionality of a server-based PAC system without the limited accessibility of a server-based environment. With cPAC you have anytime, anywhere access to your images with intelligent reporting solutions, including the ability to re-measure images, customize reports, and utilize dynamic search features.

Find out more about how to equip your office with the affordable and convenient cPAC system.

Features

Browser-based: cPAC integrates bi-directional image and communication sharing between organizations, physicians, and patients with browser-based PAC system solutions and intelligent reporting. Working in different locations and collaborating with colleagues from other sites is easy with cPAC.

Cloud storage: Cloud technology hosts data and applications on secure SSL off-site servers, eliminating your need to maintain on-site servers. This provides scalable and cost-effective options for your storage and archiving of data. In addition, patient data does not remain on hardware; it is stored in a secured, HIPAA-compliant environment.

Disaster recovery and back-up solutions: cPAC provides off-site hosted data replication services. Built-in disaster recovery solutions protect your data from unplanned disruptions and prevent single points of failure. You can rest assured that your data is automatically and securely backed up.

Benefits

Low cost of ownership: cPAC is offered in flexible and scalable pricing options. You can pay per study or on a subscription that best meets your needs. Any size facility can have access to a fully-functional PAC system with cPAC.

Reduce storage and hardware costs: Cloud technology offers unlimited storage capacity without the need to purchase expensive equipment and hire staff to maintain it. Dynamic provisioning ensures that you are only paying for the storage capacity you are using, making cloud solutions scalable for any size organization.

Support: Freeland Systems Technical Solutions Team is available to help you set up and use cPAC. Whether you are new to AccessPoint or you are migrating your current system to the cloud, we can help you with installation, training, and technical support. 



Freeland Systems Launches cPAC Pro
01.27.14

cPAC Pro is now available from Freeland Systems. This new offering is a full-featured, configurable cloud-based PAC System based on AccessPoint. cPAC Pro allows users to take advantage of the multi-functional AccessPoint DICOM image viewer and intelligent reporting features with both local application and browser-based solutions for offline and online reading and reporting. cPAC Pro provides the best of both worlds—security, versatility, and convenience.

Find out more about why cPAC Pro is the most comprehensive imaging archival and reporting system option.

Features

Browser-based: cPAC Pro enables you to access all of your imaging files and reports from the web. You are no longer bound to the confines of your office in order to access patient images and information. With cPAC Pro, you don’t need to connect to your facility’s onsite server or use a specific workstation. Authorized users can quickly and securely gain access to patient records through the web-based application. This streamlines the workflow and allows physicians to share and access files for easier collaboration and consultation.

Local application: Even if you don’t have Internet access, cPAC Pro allows you to continue working. Simply download the files you need, continue your work offline, and cPAC Pro will automatically upload your files to the cloud once you have logged back in. Whether you are in the office, on a plane, or in another facility, you can have access to your patients’ images and files.

Cloud storage: Cloud technology hosts data and applications on secure SSL off-site servers, eliminating your need to maintain onsite hardware. This provides scalable and cost-effective options for your data storage.

Disaster recovery and back-up solutions: cPAC Pro provides off-site hosted data replication services. Built-in disaster recovery solutions protect your data from unplanned disruptions and prevent single points of failure. You can rest assured that your data is automatically backed up without having to maintain and operate your back-up storage architecture.

Benefits

Use existing configurations: cPAC Pro offers the flexibility to use your current assets, add to your current configurations, or move to a completely cloud-based solution.

Reduce storage and hardware costs: Cloud technology offers unlimited storage capacity without the need to purchase expensive equipment and hire staff to maintain it. It reduces your infrastructure costs and provides resilience against system failures.

Support: Freeland Systems Technical Solutions Team is available to help you set up and use cPAC Pro. Whether you are new to AccessPoint or are updating your current system to the cloud, we can help you with installation, training, and technical support.