No more medical CDs? We hope.

Many seniors likely have experienced the frustration—and fear—having radiological tests results that needed to be read by multiple doctors. The tests, downloaded to CD, may be transferred through the mails or hand-carried by the patient, but at its best the process can add days, even a week, to diagnostic time. At its worst, when the CD finally arrives, it may be unreadable for various reasons.

Not the pretty kind of cloud. Image courtesy: Getrems.com

Not the pretty kind of cloud. Image courtesy: Getrems.com

Distracted by whatever medical condition required all those tests, you may forget to consider the obvious: Why in these days when people can share photos on their phones are patients still schlepping around CDs?

Fortunately, medical institutions are beginning to catch up. According to a story in Modern Healthcare, there’s now a push for more centralized digital storage of medical images, so that the CD problem could be eliminated. Images and other records are kept “in the cloud,” which essentially means—despite all the hype around the term—a huge bank of computers that’s accessible over the Internet from any digital device. The advantage to you is that the test you took near your home can be read by a specialist thousands of miles away.

While several radiological cloud storage systems are already in place, the kicker is that there isn’t yet one national system. If you stay within one HMO or other medical network, your records may be easily accessed, but if you have to see an outside specialist, you may still be stuck with CDs and the subsequent delays. If you’re considering a new medical group, it’s worth asking if records can be electronically transferred both within—and without—their network. We’re guessing you may see some rolled eyes if you ask, “Will my records be kept in the cloud?”