Cloud-Computing Tools for Doctors and Physicians

As we discussed in an older article, cloud computing technologies are on the rise in the healthcare industry. From large hospitals to physicians and administrators to small medical services providers, all have seen cost savings from implementing and utilizing cloud-based solutions.

Today we will focus more on small medical services providers and on how they can use cloud computing technologies. Here are the cloud-based solutions most used by doctors and physicians:

  • Cloud storage.  Information storage is of major importance for doctors as they need to keep medical records, notes, test results, cardiology and radiology images, available and secure. There are two alternatives when it comes to cloud storage solutions for medical services: the electronic medical record solution (EMR) and the electronic health record solution (EHR). According to the National Alliance for Health Information Technology (NAHIT), EMR is “the electronic record of health-related information on an individual that is created, gathered, managed, and consulted by licensed clinicians and staff from a single organization who are involved in the individual’s health and care.” EHR is the aggregate electronic record of health-related information on an individual that is created and gathered cumulatively across more than one health care organization and is managed and consulted by licensed clinicians and staff involved in the individual’s health and care”.

  • Cloud collaboration. Doctors and physicians are using cloud-based collaborative tools and mobilized solutions such as email and calendars to improve communication, reduce data breaches and increase productivity.

  • Cloud-based management systems. These solutions provide billing and scheduling functionalities for doctors, physicians and administrative staff. These tools make scheduling apointments, making cancelations or moving them around as needed much easier than legacy non cloud based solutions.

Some physicians and doctors working in small medical clinics already use cloud-based tools without their employer’s approval, a situation that increases the risk for sensitive data to be disclosed. As a medical services provider you can’t just throw the IT resources and patient information into the cloud without some considerable prior investigations and assurances that the new cloud environment is compliant. Although cloud computing technologies are on the rise in the healthcare industry, choosing the right solutions that increase the ROI, streamline processes and insure patient privacy remains an issue as only a few solutions available in the market today meet all of these requirements.

Photo source: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1342025

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2 Responses to “Cloud-Computing Tools for Doctors and Physicians”

  1. Greg Meyer says:

    Forgive me for being the “stick in the mud,” but I am still so very confused about the way we articulate the advantages of cloud computing or, more to the point, why we are obsessed with “the cloud”. I am commenting as a CTO/CIO with 25 years of experience that includes architecting, developing, deploying, and maintaining “cloud” systems in the excess of $50mm.

    As I’ve stated in previous posts in other groups, we were using — in every sense of the word(s) and in every sense of the concept, “cloud computing” since at least as early as 1994. Come on fold — “cloud storage,” “cloud collaboration,” and “cloud-based management systems” are old hat.

    What is *not* old is the verbiage that we use to describe and articulate distributed and virtualized data and processes.

    Let’s all take a step back and review, keeping in mind that the application of “cloud computing” to the medical profession, to business analytics, to “big data” (another sore spot in my “let’s be a pain” portfolio), to manufacturing, to retail, et. al. is something that has been around and evolved for decades.

    Again, as someone who is deeply entrenched in these though processes, what we are seeing today is a marketing revolution. As far as the technology itself goes, we are continuing down a multi-decade evolution — certainly not a revolution.

    Slam me as you will, but thank you.

  2. Thank you for the response. We have come a long way since the days of main frames, dumb terminals, client server computing, browser based applications. We are now in the virtualization era. Yes, some do say they are offering cloud based applications and if you look beneath those SaaS offerings you probably would find bare metal, hardware and software that can only be scaled by adding more blades, disk and ram. The SaaS based offerings that are built on a IaaS platform and managed by Enterprise hosting facilities are much different. These solutions are running on hardware and software that is designed for virtualization environments which allow the virtuals to communicate across multiple blades and chassis at higher speeds and greater efficiency. The management of these resources is to me a large part of what cloud computing is all about. The ability to scale up resources, add Ram, Disk and CPU’s through a centralized management interface. Manage the type of storage dynamically from mechanical disks to SSD’s, move applications and data from shared multitenant environments to dedicated blade, chassis, SAN environments to meet critical compliance needs through this single management interface. This is Cloud Computing and what was not possible in the 1990′s. However, I will write a more in depth article on this topic in the near future.

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