servers can perform the same service for images. Because radiology images are very large, that caching facility will be important.
"It's like our equivalent of the cable company having the last mile into your house," says Durlach.
The image-sharing service is based on the acquisition of Accelarad, which had about 1,900 radiology customers already.
The service can be set up and integrated with onsite image servers in a day or two, according to Durlach. Many customers who saw the technology demonstrated at a recent Nuance users group meeting in Arizona are already trying it out, he tells us. The PowerShare Network is offered on a freemium basis, a common cloud business model that allows customers to get started for free and upgrade as their need for storage and other services increases. Patients who want online access to their own images can get a free account. Healthcare professionals also can get guest access to an account established by someone else for free, but they must upgrade to establish their own "hub" accounts for sharing with a network of providers that they define.
A robust image-sharing network should reduce waste. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services estimates 20% of the medical imaging done in the US is redundant, accounting for about $10 billion in medical expenses each year, Durlach says. Much of that he puts down to ignorance. "When a physician wants to order a study, he has no idea whether a similar study has been done for you in the recent past. We want to get to the point where distributing the radiology image in connection with a report is a natural part of the care process."
"Whether at their desktop or on their mobile device, our physicians can see the study that was done along with the interpretive report, which provides the information they need to treat the patient and avoid duplicate testing," says Debbie Gash, vice president and CIO of St. Luke's Health System in Kansas City, in a statement for the press release. "By integrating this with our EHR, PowerShare enables physicians to manage inbound imaging through one point of access and login through our EHR. Physicians in our 11 hospitals and 100-mile radius referral network see this cutting-edge technology as a way to deliver the highest level of patient care."
Though the online exchange of medical records is central to the government's Meaningful Use program, the effort to make such transactions routine has just begun. Also in the Barriers to Health Information Exchange issue of InformationWeek Healthcare: why cloud startups favor Direct Protocol as a simpler alternative to centralized HIEs. (Free registration required.)