Adoption of cloud-based imaging informatics tools set to accelerate

The waste and inefficiency inherent in the conventional siloed on-premises IT models for medical imaging informatics soon will vanish, according to a new study by Frost & Sullivan.

In the era of Big Data and healthcare integration, it is unsustainable for each facility or enterprise to buy, operate and maintain its own IT solutions; as such, the adoption of cloud-based medical imaging informatics will accelerate as IT managers search for more cost-effective and flexible solutions to help manage their stakeholders' growing enterprise imaging needs, according to the report, "Growth Opportunities in the Global Cloud-based Medical Imaging Informatics Market."

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"After years of skepticism, the future of medical imaging informatics is firmly tied to the cloud," said Nadim Daher, medical imaging and imaging informatics industry principal. "As we have moved past the innovator stage and well into the early adopter phase, amidst an industrywide imperative for greater data usability and interoperability in healthcare, the vendor community has taken notice and is preparing for a major realignment around cloud-based models."

Today, only a few mid-sized and many small-sized vendors have fully embraced the cloud, so the market opportunity is really still in its infancy, with only the long-term image archiving use case being relatively mature, Daher added.

When it comes to medical imaging in the cloud, LifeIMAGE, for example, recently announced it is now using the Google Cloud Platform to offer population health and precision medicine capabilities to clients of its medical image management network. Imaging vendors, including LifeIMAGE rivals Agfa Healthcare, AMRBA Health, GE, Lexmark, Mach7 and Novarad, increasingly have been focused on sharing images in the cloud.

Such sharing of radiology images promises to improve patient care by enabling clinical decision making to ideally reduce unnecessary or redundant tests and procedures. And it also means that patients seeing doctors who work at hospitals subscribing to cloud-based image sharing will no longer have to carry their own images from one appointment to the next.

According to the Frost & Sullivan study, the total revenue of the global cloud-based medical imaging informatics market is expected to remain on a very strong growth trajectory over the next few years, growing from $285.4 million in 2016 to $830.5 million in 2021. That's a significant compound annual growth rate of 23.8 percent.

"Cloud-based platforms, deployed through various software-as-a-service, subscription or hybrid cloud models, open up new market access for imaging application developers, expand the prospective user base, and break down many adoption barriers for imaging providers," according to Frost & Sullivan researchers.

"Yet the shift does pose challenges for vendors and customers alike, as shifting imaging informatics from capital-intensive to operational expenditure, and from on-premises to hosted models, dramatically alters operational, security and financial risk profiles."

Over the next few years, the cloud's convergence with advanced imaging analytics, machine learning, imaging research, interoperability standards and healthcare blockchains will open new applications and opportunities for adoption by a wide range of stakeholders across the medical imaging value chain, the study said.

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