Before the pandemic, hospitals were hesitant to embrace a cloud journey. Sure, some were using the cloud for research projects and cloud-based applications like Office 365 but leveraging the cloud for medical imaging was largely in its infancy. Fast forward to today. While it seems in many ways that the world has stood still for the past 14 months, the adoption of cloud across healthcare has grown rapidly. Previous hesitancies are being overcome by the need to optimize valuable resources, reduce data center footprint, establish consumption-based infrastructure models, and enable AI modeling. But has cloud interest picked up at the same pace for enterprise imaging? Our March and April SIIM Enterprise Imaging Webinar Series explored the topic to find out – and the answer is yes.

Our March webinar, “Should Your Heads be in the Clouds – The Current and Future State of Cloud Integration,” shared an overall view of the state of the imaging industry, a roadmap to cloud adoption and common cloud terminology. In April, as a follow-on discussion from the March session, we were joined by storage architects from UCLA Health and Centura Health, two leading healthcare organizations actively leveraging the cloud for image data management. A few key take-aways from our cloud focused webinar series are:

  • Most of the major enterprise imaging software vendors are now offering a level of cloud-based capabilities or are well on their way to developing those capabilities. And there is consumer demand for these capabilities.
  • At the onset, vendors are taking different approaches to enable cloud adoption. While some are focused on eliminating an on-premises presence and providing cloud-based software as a service options (SaaS), others are focused, for now, on enabling disaster recovery and tier 4 archiving in the cloud. Most, if not all, are on their way to providing cloud-based, SaaS models.
  • Cloud-based SaaS models are the future of medical imaging software and for good reasons.
    • This approach minimizes, in some cases eliminates, the need for any on-premises hardware or software. This supports a movement within health IT to simplify overhead and focus people resources on high value efforts.
    • Cloud-based SaaS enables true consumption-based architectures, meaning you only pay for the compute and storage that you need, when you need it. A prime advantage of the cloud is on-demand scalability. Planning for and buying storage capacity that you need years ahead of when you need it will be a thing of the past.
    • As imaging software becomes cloud native, enhancements can be released at a rapid rate, updates and upgrades will be non-disruptive, and testing will be streamlined. This will lead to higher levels of customer satisfaction. Ultimately these improvements will lead to less site-specific customizations and greater levels of interoperability. Imagine a world where you do not have to test at all because all sites will be configured the same. This may seem like a far-fetched claim, but it is achievable and necessary to realize the true power of interoperability.
  • Connectivity speed (bandwidth) to the cloud is a top priority consideration. Performance cannot be a limiting factor and ensuring low latency comes at a cost.
  • Speaking of performance, organizations must be thoughtful about their approach to cloud-based services. We have all heard stories of early adopters moving to the cloud only to return quickly due to unexpected costs (egress fees or the fee associated with pulling data back from the cloud) and/or performance issues. It is paramount to carefully plan the underlying dataflow architecture. During the April panel discussion, we heard from UCLA Health and Centura Health that the primary key to the successful adoption of cloud is understanding image usage, specifically access to images post initial acquisition/interpretation and crafting an architecture that accommodates accordingly.
  • Another key to success is the active involvement of internal stakeholders during performance testing. This should not need to be mentioned, but just in case for those in the back of the room – stakeholder engagement is vital.
  • In summary, the cloud is here to stay. Organizations and software vendors will take different approaches to their cloud journey, but careful planning cannot be overlooked and is the key to success.

To learn more, please take advantage of our on-demand education library and watch our March and April EI Webinar Series episodes sponsored by Barco. Please provide your feedback and let us know about topics you would like to see addressed in the future.

Kim Garriott

Chief Innovation Officer, NetApp Global Healthcare

Written by

Kimberley Garriott

Publish date

Apr 28, 2021


  • Data Sets & Management

Media Type

  • News & Announcements

Audience Type

  • Clinician
  • Developer
  • Imaging IT
  • Researcher/Scientist


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