Apple iCloud offers intriguing options for mHealth

Steve Jobs' ideas for a cloud-based storage network are generating some buzz about its possible effects on healthcare technology, as clinicians continue to adopt iPhones, iPods and iPads in droves.

The major piece of news for healthcare users: iCloud will allow users to download and share apps, data, files and records on any Apple device, regardless of where the item originally was downloaded. This could be great news for physicians who download a clinical app to their iPads, but want to also use or share it via their iPhones (or vice-versa).

iCloud is the latest of several attempts by Apple to develop a cloud-based network, and a replacement for the now-defunct MobileMe system. Neither Jobs nor other Apple execs specifically have addressed the healthcare implications yet, but some of what they've revealed has clear healthcare connections.

Particularly useful for mobile health will be the university remote computer access, says Jennifer Dennard, social marketing director for Billian's HealthDATA and Porter Research, Atlanta, in a post on Healthcare IT News. The company indicates users will be able to log into any Apple device and access their personal desktop and files--something on-the-go clinicians may jump right on, Dennard says.

iCloud also will allow users to wirelessly sync and power up their devices. That means physicians won't have to stop and connect to a PC or other computer to download updates or upload files, Dennard notes.

One note: Imaging could be problematic, according to early company statements. The company already has said that personal photos--due to their storage size--will only be kept in the cloud for 30 days before they need to be downloaded to a hard device. That could make radiological or other image sharing tricky.

To learn more:
- read the Healthcare IT News blog post
- check out InformationWeek's coverage
- dig into the Sacramento Bee story
- get more details from ABC News