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Preventative Medicine or Emergency Surgery? Healthcare and the Cloud

While Cloud Computing is getting the majority of the headlines within the IT industry, it could easily be argued that no industry is going through as much change as Healthcare. Whether it’s Healthcare reform in the United States, the rollout of Telemedicine solutions (by corporations and municipalities), or online collaboration to educate and discuss outbreaks and crisis, the business of keeping people well is going through radical change. Not only are the economics of Healthcare being forced to change, but so to is the technology that allows doctors to deliver care, medical records to be stored and researchers to find the next cure.

This past week I had the opportunity to present at the NCHICA “Health Information in the Cloud” along with experts from industry, technology, law and standards-bodies. The conference focused on many aspects of Healthcare + Cloud, including HIPPA standards, Legal and Compliance considerations, Security, Deployments in Public vs. Private Clouds, offerings from Managed Service Providers and real-world case studies (presentations can be found here and here). The presentation we gave focused on the infrastructure required to build Private Cloud.


Throughout the day, several themes continued to be enforced by both the speakers and customers in attendance.

  • Most attendees (hospitals, healthcare systems, billing & patient record providers, etc.) felt that they initial involvement with Cloud would be focused on Private Cloud deployments. The uncertainty around Security, Auditing and Compliance was still too new to most.
  • Cost containment or getting to a model of fixed/known costs was a higher priority than a focus on IT driving new innovation.
  • Building an infrastructure architecture that could be adapted to new regulations, technologies or deployment models was very important. Trading costs for flexibility was a high priority.
  • There was very strong interest in exploring the evolving standards around Cloud Computing interoperability, especially as it related to compliance and auditing. Cisco’s Becky Swain and Chris Hoff, along with many others, are deeply engaged in driving the vision and execution of these standards and recommendations. These include Cloud Controls Matrix (CCM), Consensus Assessment Initiative (CAI) and CloudAudit
  • Understanding how they could continue to adapt to the emerging consumerization of their doctors, patients, devices and applications. Handheld and mobile devices, and their integration into various applications, is another top priority.

Of particular interest to me were several presentations:

As a leave-behind, we create a high-level decision tree to help the attendees look at where their infrastructure and operations were today and how they could begin evolving those in preparation for deploying Private Cloud services to their patients, partners and business users.

Network-Storage-Operations-Healthcare-Cloud-DecisionTree

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2 Comments.


  1. Nice blog post Brian. Don’t forget to include robotics and its impact in healthcare – DaVinci, McSleepy, robotic surgery nurses, robotic pharmacy, etc.

    It’s the dawn of a new world.

    -Ray

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  2. Brian Gracely

    @Ray,

    Very good point about the proliferation of automated and unmanned systems and devices in healthcare. We hear this all the time from our customers. For some reason it wasn’t discussed at this event, so it had slipped my mind.

       0 likes