EHR In the Cloud – Major EHR Developments per Halamka

Posted on September 14, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the 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 and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

As most of you know, John Halamka is publishing content everywhere. In fact, maybe I should see if he’ll publish some here. Halamka is really smart and respected by many for good reason. So, I was intrigued to find an article in the Technology Review (an MIT publication) where Halamka higlights what he considers the major EHR and healthcare IT developments over the next five years.

I’ve been doing a number of series lately on EMR and EHR & EMR and HIPAA and since people seem to really like them, I decided I’d make Halamka’s major EHR developments into a series as well.

The first Major EHR Development is: EHR In the Cloud

In the article above, Halamka offers some interesting comments about doctors being doctors and not tech people, the issues of privacy in the cloud and hospitals leaning towards “private clouds.” Let’s take a look at each of these.

Doctors Don’t Want to be Tech People
While there are certainly exceptions to the rule, it’s true that most doctors just want their tech to work. They don’t want to spend a weekend installing a server. There’s little argument that a SaaS EHR requires less in office tech. This fact will end up being a major driving force behind the adoption of SaaS EHR software over the client server counterparts.

Certainly, many doctors will still feel comfortable with their local IT help doing the work for a client server install. Also, many still feel more comfortable having their EHR data stored on a server in their office. This issue will continue to fester for a long time to come. At least until the SaaS EHR vendors provide doctors a copy of their data which they can store in their office. Plus, SaaS EHR are much faster today than they were, but there’s still a few things that a client server can do that is just flat out faster than client server.

I still see the ease of implementation and “less tech” helping SaaS EHR software to continue to gain market share.

Privacy in the Cloud
The biggest problem here is likely that doctors aren’t technical enough to really understand the risks of data in the cloud or not. Plus, I think you can reasonably make an argument that both sides have privacy risks. Most people are becoming much more comfortable with data stored in the cloud. I expect this trend to continue.

Private Clouds for Hospitals
Halamka claims that he, “estimates that moving infrastructure and applications to my hospital’s private cloud has reduced the cost of implementing electronic health records by half.” Of course, we have a lot of possible definitions of “cloud” and I’m not exactly sure how Halamka defines his private cloud. However, anyone who’s managed client installs of EHR software, including client upgrades, etc knows some of the pains associated with it. I’d be interested to know what other savings Halamka and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center get from their “private cloud.”

Cloud and EHR
There’s one thing I can’t ever get out of me head when I think about EHR and the cloud. Someone once told me (sorry I can’t remember who), “The cloud has always won in every industry. It will win in EHR too.” I hate when people use terms like always and every, but I haven’t (yet?) found an example to prove that person wrong.