Jeb Molony

The updated version of Microsoft Office 365 became available to the public about three weeks ago.  Since the update we have been working to identify changes and improvements as well as find new ways to help clients.  We believe one of the most important improvements, though slight, will prove to be of great benefit to doctors, dentists and others in the medical industry.  Our clients are based in Charleston, SC but the industry faces the same issues despite the geographic location.

Imaging is a major hurdle for doctors offices.  Handling the large image files produced by today's x-ray and imaging machines is a hurdle for any IT infrastructure.  Handling these images in a cloud environment is an even greater hurdle, and factoring in the average bandwidth for doctors offices in Charleston, SC leaves the challenge as more of an impossibility.  However, the updated Microsoft Office 365 has provided new hope to the way doctors offices can function in Charleston.

The doctors offices we have worked with in the past required temporary local storage combined with long term archiving through Microsoft Office 365.  The reason for using a hybrid model was the bandwidth required to move these images between the cloud storage and the local computer was too much for most locations in Charleston.  This meant an image had to be compressed and broken in order to transport the image across the internet.  The image would then be stored in the compressed format, and when needed would be downloaded and rebuilt.  All in all the process could easily take twenty to thirty minutes per image which was not acceptable for practicing doctors.  The new version of Office 365 uses a different kind of queue and compress technology for transmitting large files across the internet.  The shift in compression technique has allowed us to move files ten times larger than the previous version across the same bandwidth.  

The second major hurdle when working with images from doctors offices has been the inability to open the images inside the browser.  The previous version of Office 365 required the user to download files such as PDF and jpeg then open them on the local computer.  Again this process took considerable bandwidth which reduced functionality for the doctors.  The new version of Microsoft Office 365 allows the user to view images inside the browser which are stored on the server.  This means the end user does not have to bring the image across the internet in order to open, view, or edit the image.

These two improvements will make the greatest impact on the medical industry because doctors offices can now use Microsoft Office 365 to store all of their electronic medical records.  Combining Office 365 with a hosted solution for the medical billing software will provide a doctor's office with a complete cloud based solution for its practice management needs.