However you feel about healthcare reform, one thing is certain—when it comes to IT, the forecast is clouds ahead. In today’s demanding environment, the benefits of cloud technology significantly outshine those of a traditional client/server systems for almost any hospital or physician practice, particularly in medical imaging. If you have not looked skyward, it’s high time you broadened your horizons.
What’s around the corner?  In today’s rapidly changing environment, a major benefit of cloud technology is that new and improved technologies are easily and cost-effectively available as needed to both large and small organizations.  To compete, successful cloud vendors must truly keep ahead of the technology curve by providing leading edge, feature- rich applications and other solutions.  That means users can leverage breaking technology without heavy investment in system upgrades, whether it’s the newest version of a HIS, RIS, PACS or billing software.  Hardware upgrades also are typically frequent to keep communication ultra-fast and your enterprise IT humming with efficiency.
Because many cloud systems are internet based or are optimized for access by multiple sites in multiple locations, they provide a simple, fast and cost-effective way to communicate with referring physicians, patients and to share health records and diagnostic images with other radiologists or clinicians for conferences and second opinions.  Supporting better, more efficient medicine, cloud technology minimizes retakes by easily enabling exams to follow patients who are transferred to other facilities or see various specialists. 
Remember, today the more things change, the more they often change again.  Therefore, as software upgrades become increasingly frequent, the squeeze on IT staff time can be considerable.  But, again cloud technology’s built-in maintenance provides an answer.  It  complements existing IT infrastructure without adding additional systems maintenance and administration of  upgrades, freeing up internal IT staff time.
Typically funded through ongoing monthly fees, cloud solutions shift IT costs from a capital expenditure to an operational budget.  They also often lower costs because users are buying into a solution from a specialized vendor to multiple sites, creating an economy of scale. 

What’s the down side to a move up to the sky?  Some sites prefer the philosophy of onsite IT ownership.  But vendors are often flexible and you may be able to get started with a flexible short term agreement.  There’s nothing to buy or install.  Try it—you just may like it.  After all, it’s the cloud, and nothing is written in stone.