The Evolution of Image Sharing

Image sharing has evolved significantly in the past few years, easing the lives of both patients and providers. While traditionally an outdated and tedious task, image sharing today is now fast and effortless, thanks to developments in technology and telehealth. To help you understand just how significantly it has progressed, we will go through the past, present, and future of image sharing. 

Traditional Image Sharing


In the past, medical imaging was almost entirely dependant on physical CDs. Once a patient’s scans or images were taken, they would be either be printed as film or uploaded to a physical CD and then handed to the patient. Each time the patient had an appointment or needed to share their images with their physician, they would have to physically report to their doctor’s office to hand in their CD or mail their CD to the corresponding location. 

Not only was this a highly inefficient means of sharing medical images, but it posed a lot of real issues as well. One of the most significant issues with this method of image sharing was that the patient was entirely responsible for their CD of medical images. If a patient were to lose, damage, or forget to bring their CD to their appointment, they would be left without the necessary images for their meeting. 

Additionally, patients would have to pay the cost of getting more images taken, requiring more time and scheduling in addition to the monetary cost. For patients with limited funds or busy schedules, it may not always be feasible to get more images. 

Even if a provider were to store patients’ images as opposed to patients storing them themselves, they still ran the risk of damaging, losing, or mixing up images. Consequently, patients still had to get new images or potentially get mistreated due to unclear or mismatched images

As if these problems weren’t enough, the image-sharing process was even more challenging if a patient wanted to obtain a second opinion from another physician. Once a patient determined a physician for a second opinion, they had to physically mail their CD to their office. The mailing process alone could take days, in addition to waiting for the physician to get around to viewing it, making an assessment, and responding via mail once again. As such, it could take days or even weeks for patients to get a second opinion - time that patients spent stressed and worrying. 

Clearly, image sharing of the past was very inefficient and did little to benefit patients during what is likely a stressful and overwhelming time. Fortunately, developments in healthcare technology, and telehealth, in particular, have revolutionized image sharing for both patients and providers. 


Image Sharing Today


Telehealth is absolutely revolutionizing the state of modern healthcare, especially regarding image sharing. While medical images were uploaded to physical CDs in the past, today, medical images can be virtually uploaded onto telehealth platforms. These platforms include patient portals where patients can upload and access all of their medical records and images. 

Each time a patient needs to access their medical images, they can simply log in to their patient portal and view any image. The same goes for providers, who can easily access patient images via their portal whenever is necessary. Thanks to cloud-enabled telehealth platforms, images can even be accessed whether in the office or via a mobile device. As a result, patients no longer need to hold on to a physical CD that may get lost, damaged, or forgotten. Instead, the images they need are always accessible and protected, ensuring the longevity of their medical records. 

This saves patients and providers significant time and money as they do not need to frequently replace images or risk losing and damaging them. Instead, providers can quickly pull up a patient’s images with the confidence that they are correctly matched and up-to-date. As a result, the risk of medical errors is significantly reduced, ensuring patients get accurate care in a timely manner. 

Furthermore, as a result of digital medical images, image sharing is also faster and easier than ever before. If patients need to share their images with a provider, they can simply select any relevant images and forward them to any providers available within their telehealth network. With this speed, patients can obtain second opinions within hours rather than weeks. As such, patients get the answers they need, allowing them to calm their worries and move forward in their treatment.

While healthcare technology and telehealth have already begun to revolutionize the practice of image sharing, these developments will only continue to drive forward the speed and accessibility of modern healthcare


The Future of Image Sharing


There is no question that technology is a significant driver in the development of healthcare and image sharing in particular. As more and more technology becomes available in the healthcare industry, there’s no question that healthcare will grow faster and more accessible. Still, technology is not the only driver in these developments. Another significant contributor to advancements in healthcare is consumerism or patient-driven change. 

For the first time, perhaps ever, patients are raising their expectations for not only businesses but their healthcare providers as well. Today, patients expect to be prioritized as people rather than an illness or injury to be cured. As such, healthcare practices have had to step up how they interact with patients, focusing on providing a positive patient experience. 

Regarding image sharing, patients are no longer solely responsible for the storage of their medical images. As mentioned, previously if their medical images were lost or damaged, the patient was responsible for paying for new images and taking the time to get them. Today, providers are responsible for storing and protecting images via their telehealth platform. This makes it much easier for patients to get the care they need using medical images, whether it be that physicians can access them easier or share them faster. 

As telehealth grows more advanced, real-time image sharing is even becoming possible. While patients and providers communicate during remote telehealth appointments, providers can access and view patient images in real-time. As such, providers can assess images while speaking with their patients in real-time, ensuring that patients have a clear understanding of their diagnosis and treatment in correlation with their images. 


Telehealth and Image Sharing


Through technological advancements in telehealth, image sharing is now more efficient and user-friendly than ever. Until recently, image sharing was outdated and tedious, putting all of the responsibilities and consequences on patients. 

Today, in a more patient-facing industry, image sharing is convenient, quick, and easy. As a result, patients can store and access their medical images with ease, in addition to sharing them faster than ever. In turn, providers can easily view and share these images, allowing them to quickly assess and diagnose patients. With modern image sharing, patients can receive care faster, more accurately, and more efficiently.


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About the author - Mircea Popa

Mircea Popa is the CEO and co-founder of Medicai. Mircea previously founded SkinVision, a mobile app designed to detect melanoma (skin cancer) through ML algorithms applied on images taken with smartphones. He believes that a multidisciplinary approach to medicine is possible only when everyone has access to a better way to store, transmit and collaborate on medical data.