AT&T offers cloud-based mobile access to medical images

By Brian Dolan
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Brian Dolan, Editor, MobiHealthNewsLast month I wrote about how handheld point of care diagnostic imaging devices will cannibalize existing, less mobile technologies. GE's Vscan and Mobisante's MobiUS were the prime examples.

The other big trend in mobile imaging is remote access. Diagnostic imaging app MIM Mobile finally received clearance from the FDA at the beginning of the year after an usually long (two year) review period. It also recently announced a companion app that enables physicians to share images with patients.

Calgary Scientific has also made some waves with its ResolutionMD offering, which powered by the company's PureWeb technology, so that doesn’t require image data or confidential patient information to be transferred to the hand-held device. Sounds like cloud. Sprint has highlighted its partnership with Calgary Scientific.

BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion chose Client Outlook's eUnity app, which enables health care professionals to access, manipulate and collaborate real-time over full quality medical images using any web-browser, as the very first app publicly demonstrated on the device maker's tablet offering: the PlayBook.

Last night, AT&T, which has already announced partnerships with a number of mobile health companies, including WellDoc, Vitality, and MedApps, entered the imaging space with a new cloud-based service offering: AT&T Medical Imaging and Information Management service. The telecom operator has already signed up two healthcare facilities as pilot customers: Baptist Health System and Henry Ford Health System.

Alabama-based Baptist Health System has more than 2 million images and creates about 30,000 new ones each month. That's 350,000 annually. In the release announcing the new service, AT&T cites Frost & Sullivan's prediction that the number of medical imaging procedures will cross the 1 billion mark in 2012.

"The solution helps providers to store, access, view and share patient medical images and information inside hospital systems and outside with referring physicians and other authorized facilities over a highly secure infrastructure," the company explains. "AT&T’s cloud solution offers pay-as-you-go pricing that helps reduce costs by allowing healthcare providers to pay per gigabyte, per month. This pricing model can help providers to store medical images easily and avoid costly capital investment in storage infrastructure."

An AT&T spokesperson told me that the cloud-based imaging service will enable "referring physicians and specialists" to access images via smartphones and tablets. AT&T said they would have more to share on the mobile angle as its pilot customers roll out the service.