So, you upgraded from a local onsite solution to the Cloud. That’s great! However, just because you made the transition to go digital, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have to be cautious of how you manage patient records. While your package can no longer get lost in the mail, you are still vulnerable. Here’s what you need to know.
We now have the technology to unlock devices with our faces, but that doesn’t mean that we are immune to data loss as a result of poor image management. Here’s a question, how do you manage your patient medical images? Do you store them in a local hard drive, filing cabinet, image router, or onsite PACS? If you selected any of these options, it is likely that you are possibly one of many victims to data loss, and if not - you still have time to take the measures to protect your patient's private health information (PHI).
When I was growing up, my parents had a traditional mailbox in front of their house. It was an aluminum box painted with flowers that sat upon a wooden post. I can still recall looking out the window and knowing that the mail person had come and gone because the outgoing flag was no longer raised. Today, the cutesy mailboxes are a thing of the past. In fact, their mass exodus has led to the influx of boxes that have physical lock and keys. Why? Not to be dramatic, but it’s because your mail is not safe, and if you are sending or receiving medical records and images through that very mailbox, you’re at great risk.
While medical imaging is not the major focus of HIPAA or HITECH, it is important that practitioners be wary of the unique issues associated with this type of protected health information (PHI). Medical images are typically dense data files often much larger than their other medical record counterparts. It’s not unusual to find studies or series of images that exceed one gigabyte in size. Their storage, sharing and archive pose unique challenges for the practitioner. Hence, it is important to understand how best utilize this important diagnostic tool while not running afoul of regulations.
If your practice already has an onsite storage system for your medical images, you might be considering deploying a cloud picture archiving and communication system (PACS) or hybrid (a mix of cloud and onsite storage) to increase the accessibility of your studies.