Electronic Records Drive Health Care IT to the Cloud

Michael Vizard
Slide Show

Key Health Care IT Trends

The good news is that primary focus now seems to be squarely on improving the overall quality of health care and the reduction of human errors.

With a lot of IT organizations in the health care space staring at some rapidly approaching deadlines related to the meaningful use of electronic health care records (EHR), interest in cloud computing is starting to rise.

Thanks to the $19.2 billion that the U.S. government made available to health care organizations to fund the development of EHR systems as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), many health care organizations are struggling to comply with a set of regulations that are not only more stringent than most of them realized, but also costly to implement.

In a webinar that can be found here, Bob Dempkowski, deputy director for the Lynn Community Health Center in Lynn, Mass., explains why the health care provider opted to deploy its EHR system on a cloud computing platform located in a data center managed by Platform Solutions. The basic issue, says Dempkowski, is by the time Lynn Community Health could modernize its own data center facilities, the deadlines would have passed.

To make matters even more interesting, health care organizations are now being asked to comply with a set of stage two criteria for meaningful use that is more stringent than stage one. So even if they can meet the criteria outlined in stage one, many health care providers are probably going to re-examine their cloud computing options going forward as they look to the criteria being defined in stage two of meaningful use and beyond.

The truth of the matter is that most data in an EHR system is archival by nature. It needs to accessible, but it's not likely that a lot of the data is going to be used every day. And once a patient record is activated, it shouldn't take too much thinking to figure out what other records are most likely to be accessed in what order next.

There's no doubt that there a significant number of health care providers capable of building and maintaining their own EHR system. But in reality the vast majority of health care providers look a lot more like Lynn Community Health than they do Massachusetts General. For those organizations, the cloud is going to wind up being the only viable EHR option available.

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