Health Care IT Takes to the Clouds

Jill taylor

As health care companies, hospitals, and practices look for ways to get out of the software business, cloud computing assumes a more prominent role.

SC10 is under way in New Orleans this week. I enjoy exploring the presentations because the conference is broad in scope, but there’s plenty there that would interest folks in healthcare IT. If you’ve got questions about cloud computing, data management and security, etc, you might check the website out. Some of the events are available online as video files or live media streaming.

I was doing a bit of research on cloud computing myself when I ran across an article posted last week by Forbes blogger David Carr that commented on a presentation during the recent Cloud Summit hosted by Management World Americas. In the blog, Carr reflected on the advice of Douglas Menefee of the Schumacher Group, who used cloud computing to prevent his company (which manages hospital emergency rooms) from an inadvertent slide into software development.

While the points made by Menefee were very good ones, I don’t think that the choice as to whether a healthcare company is going to be “in the software business, or in the healthcare business,” rings as true as to what degree will a healthcare company be in the software business. As healthcare slides increasingly into the digital age, COTS products are enticing and even necessary — but not always sufficient for a variety of reasons. The concept of “one size fits all” doesn’t always serve the needs of the individual business well, whether you’re talking about healthcare or any other business.

Accordingly, while the growing business of “software as a service” solves some issues, some of the basic problems associated with off-the-shelf software solutions remain. But I wonder how the investment in a cloud computing platform affects any one given company’s control over its technological footprint, and what kind of management issues grow out of dependence on services via applications and code that a company doesn’t own. Things to ponder…