Chrome OS Electronic Medical Record Anyone?

Posted on November 20, 2009 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

The tech world is buzzing about Google’s new Operating System (OS) called Chrome. You can read the full writeup from Google’s Chrome OS announcement on Techcrunch or the official announcement on the Official Google blog. Basically, Google has created an operating system for a netbook (or at least netbook like) computer that will be super fast. The reason it can work so fast is that it will basically only run web applications. Yes, this is hard to wrap your head around, but it is really interesting.

Let’s apply the Chrome OS to EMR and healthcare. Imagine you have an EMR software that’s completely web based (yes, there are a number of them already). Then, the Chrome OS would be perfect for that EMR. I should also mention that the Chrome OS computer is likely to be in the $300-$500 range. That’s a lot of savings.

Now let’s talk about speed. I’ve been using the Chrome web browser for months now and it’s just flat out faster than any other browser out there. In fact, every once in a while I open another browser and have to avoid slitting my throat as I wait for it to load. I expect the Chrome OS will be just as fast. Yes, every doctors office likes speed. Can the EMR integrate with Chrome at a level that they optimize the speed of the EMR? They could. Will be interesting to see if anyone will.

How about security? Well, there’s nothing being stored on the Chrome OS laptop. Yes, that means all of the data from this new laptop is being stored on the server. Even the data that’s temporarily stored on the laptop is encrypted. Now imagine you lose a laptop (nah, that’s never happened in healthcare, right?). Good news is that there’s no patient data on the laptop since it’s all stored in the cloud.

Of course, one downside with the Chrome OS is that you’re dependent on your internet connection to do much of anything. However, with an EMR that’s generally true anyway. So, I don’t see much difference there.

One challenge I do see is the document management piece of an EMR. Document management is file intensive and needs a real OS. I don’t see much getting around this. I don’t see Google adding in support for things like high end scanners (or even low end ones for that matter). However, you just purchase one or two computers for your office that can handle the scanning. Problem solved.

No doubt the Chrome OS isn’t the end all be all to computers. It likely won’t even takeover a HUGE percentage of market share. However, it is a really interesting development that could be interesting applied to an EMR and healthcare.