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Cloud computing in Healthcare IT

Dr. Nitin Verma | Aug. 23, 2010
Clouds computing, a new buzz, is redefining the unexplored potential in Healthcare IT

Clouds computing, a new buzz, is redefining the unexplored potential in Healthcare IT. There will be a deep impact of cloud computing in Healthcare as the providers will keep exploring the option of automating their processes and meeting the regulatory compliance at the lowest possible cost.  Clouds computing is an enablement of technology driven approach where all the computing resources, in a flexion extension manner is delivered to a client.  On demand self service, rapid elasticity, resource pooling, measured service and broad network access are the key critical attributes which are transforming the real meaning of these words.

The on demand self service gives users a sense of empowerment and independence and enhances the IT support staffs productivity.  Rapid elasticity translates that the computing resources can be provisioned and withdrawn automatically. Pooled resources and measured services allow the users to pay for the unit of their usages and resource pooling allows the vendor to cater to multiple clients with pooled computing resources. The broad network access allows access from anywhere and from any standardized platform. The private, public and hybrid clouds deliver different kinds of deployment models based on clients needs and budget. Infrastructure (IaaS), Platform (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS) are providing combination of venues to the Healthcare world to spend precious dollars more efficiently for the patients betterment.

Clouds have already started delivering value to the Healthcare industry. Radiology departments are amongst the early adopters exploiting the enormous capability of the clouds. The hospitals are being charged per image for their storage requirements. The stored radiology images are not restricted within the boundaries of a continent. They can be accessible to the right clinicians at the right time to make the right use of the available information. For the hospital, this can be a model worth exploring in order to meet the regulatory compliance for the meaningful use of certified EHR technology and keep the entry cost as low as possible. Similarly the payer organizations and the pharmaceutical companies can spend more money on the R&D instead of spending on multiplying their IT infrastructures.  However the challenges of the data governance and the regulatory compliance issues need to be answered before they slow down the speed of clouds adoption.

In order to keep the cost low and increase the efficiency the Healthcare providers and vendors have to proactively adopt innovative solutions. Microsoft and Google are amongst the first few companies which are transforming the secure information delivery using clouds.  However, evaluating the long term benefits, many new players would soon be joining this revolution. Cloud computing infrastructure has the potential to deliver the real time value to the Healthcare industry and is an appropriate tool to leverage computing power at a reasonably low cost.


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