ATandT Launches Pilot Medical Imaging Cloud at Alabama, Michigan Hospitals

AT&T is deploying its Medical Imaging and Information Management cloud service in pilot projects at Baptist Health System in Birmingham, Ala., and Henry Ford Health System in Detroit.

AT&T has launched MIIM (Medical Imaging and Information Management), a pilot cloud project that allows physicians to store, view and share medical images such as X-rays and MRIs in the cloud.

In the pilot phase, AT&T is deploying the cloud service at Baptist Health System in Alabama andHenry Ford Health System in Detroit. It will start broad commercial deployment by the third quarter, according to Randall Porter, assistant vice president for AT&T ForHealth.

The cloud service is built on AT&T Synaptic Storage as a Service, the company's Web-based elastic storage platform. MIIM stores data on EMC's Atmos storage hardware and runs Acuo Technologies' Universal Clinical Platform software.

Acuo's application allows the AT&T platform to be vendor-neural, which means doctors and radiologists can access medical images from many PACS (picture archive communications systems) rather than being restricted to a proprietary database, according to Porter.

Doctors can access images on desktops, laptops as well as mobile devices. Additional rollouts to iPhones and iPads are planned over the next few months, Porter told eWEEK.

"When you actually store an image in the system, you're getting two copies of that image in two different data centers," Porter explained. "And so from a business-continuity standpoint, disaster recovery, as well as speed to access those images, it's a very strong value proposition for these providers in making these images available in two different places."

Announced June 22, MIIM is part of AT&T's strategy to launch new health care products in the cloud under itsForHealth health care IT business, formed in November 2010.

Baptist has collected more than 2 million images and creates about 30,000 new images per month, or 350,000 annually, AT&T reports.

"We believe AT&T Medical Imaging and Information Management can help us provide improved management and access to our ongoing medical-imaging studies and long-term medical imaging as we expand access to patient medical images to our physician community," Richard Shirey, Baptist Health's chief information officer, said in a statement.

While Baptist Health will concentrate on accumulating images in many practice areas such as radiology and cardiology, Henry Ford will focus on cardiology images, Porter said. Cardiologists in multiple locations will be able to view images.

With its pay-as-you-go per-gigabyte price structure, MIIM could reduce the hospitals' costs on storing images, Porter said.

"The model that AT&T offers will help us manage images while containing costs for our $4 billion integrated health system," Kevin Yee, administrator for the Edith and Benson Ford Heart & Vascular Institute at Henry Ford, said in a statement.

A billion medical images will be stored by medical professionals in 2012, according to Frost & Sullivan.

"Images are getting out of control in terms of the number as well as the complexity," Porter said, while also noting that images are now in color and video in addition to black and white.

"Hospitals are looking for a cost-effective way to not only store them but also to manage that growth," he said. "So they're looking for a vendor- neutral cloud-based capability to help them curb costs as well as enable their physicians to access those images quicker from any device."