What Does Google's Chrome OS Mean for Healthcare?

July 10, 2009
Eric Zeman

Google dropped a pretty big bomb when it announced a new operating system for computers called Chrome OS. Will Chrome have any impact on healthcare?

Google dropped a pretty big bomb when it announced a new operating system for computers called Chrome OS. Will Chrome have any impact on healthcare?

Most computers run two operating systems: Microsoft Windows or Apple Mac OS. There's a much smaller contingent of users who take advantage of the open source Linux operating system, but it doesn't have nearly the footprint that Windows or Max OS do.

Google announced that it is working on a new operating system for netbooks (small laptops) that will compete with Windows and Mac OS. The operating system is supposed to be agile and will take advantage of the latest Web-based technologies to offer a superior Internet browsing experiencing.

Google says of the new operating system, "We hear a lot from our users and their message is clear—computers need to get better. People want to get to their e-mail instantly, without wasting time waiting for their computers to boot and browsers to start up. They want their computers to always run as fast as when they first bought them. They want their data to be accessible to them wherever they are and not have to worry about losing their computer or forgetting to back up files. Even more importantly, they don't want to spend hours configuring their computers to work with every new piece of hardware, or have to worry about constant software updates. And any time our users have a better computing experience, Google benefits as well by having happier users who are more likely to spend time on the Internet."

So, will this new operating system impact your organization? Possibly.

First, Chrome OS isn't going to be ready until the second half of 2010. That's a year from now at the earliest. You can rest easy until then. Once it becomes available, however, there are definitely going to be some things to consider.

If your organization uses mobile workers, chances are they are already armed with a cell phone, smartphone, laptop or all of the above. That gets expensive. Whittling down the equipment each employee needs can save any organization money and other resources.

Netbooks are smaller, cheaper, more portable versions of laptops. It will be important to consider what computing tasks your mobile workforce requires to assess whether or not Chrome OS can help save money. If most of the work that your employees perform is forms-based and uses a browser to access your organization's back-end systems, then perhaps something like Chrome OS is a viable alternative to pricier hardware.

Chrome OS won't necessarily be able to perform processor-intensive tasks, such as media manipulation and such, but Google is probably going to build in native support for many of its online services. Consider all that Google already offers businesses: Gmail, Google Apps, Docs, Spreadsheet, Presentation, Calendar, Picasa, Healthcare and much, much more. If you are already leveraging Google's myriad services, Chrome may be the missing link that ties it all together.