Put your health IT dollars in cloud computing, virtual apps

It's time to start implementing cloud-based services, Shahid N. Shah, the CEO of health IT consultancy Netspective Communications, writes in his latest post on The Healthcare IT Guy blog.

But that doesn't mean you'll have less infrastructure or related work, he notes. "Cloud services, especially in the [software as a service] realm, are 'application-centric' solutions and as such the infrastructure requirements remain pretty substantial--especially the sophistication of the network infrastructure."

Indeed, it seems more and more healthcare providers are open to the idea of cloud computing, notes FierceHealthIT editor Ken Terry in his column this week.

A KLAS research survey of hospital and physician practice leaders found 55 percent already had something in the cloud, from clinical applications to picture archiving and communication systems. Nearly a quarter used remotely served electronic health records.

Meaningful Use is a motivator for both practices and hospitals to go to the cloud, KLAS Senior Research Director Erik Westerlind told Terry. For clinics, cloud-based EHRs are less expensive and have smaller upfront costs than onsite systems do. Smaller hospitals are also lured by the cost advantage, and the shorter implementation time for remotely served applications is attractive when hospitals are trying to meet the Meaningful Use deadlines. 

In his post, Shah offers several other pieces of advice on hospital health IT--many of which can help CIOs save money--or at least spend it more wisely.

In addition to investing in cloud computing, items on his "do's and don'ts" list include:

  • Don't invest any more money in apps that cannot easily be virtualized--no applications should be sitting on physical servers.
  • Do invest in location-based asset tracking--your equipment should be able to find and track itself.
  • Don't write applications on top of  legacy EHR platforms with "ancient" technologies or that are due to be replaced--by integrating deeply but remaining independent of their technologies you'll get the best of both worlds.

For more information:
- read The Healthcare IT Guy blog post