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Is Cloud Computing the Last Piece of the Puzzle?

With so much rapid legislation surrounding the implementation of health care reform taking place, it is easy to shy away from determining whether or not the main goal of lowering costs and improving efficiency is really being achieved. With the reform bill passed and essentially catalyzing the development of various information technologies, it is now time to think about what will tie all of these systems together. Cloud computing – a form of Web-based processing that allows for the sharing of resources, software and information – may be the final IT piece to the health reform puzzle. States are involved in creating and/or maintaining current eligibilities systems and health information exchanges, which poses the question of how the information will flow seamlessly through departments within local governments. Cloud computing allows information to be shared in an efficient manner.

IBM, in conjunction with Aetna, recently brought its cloud-based health solution services to Puerto Rico. The recent agreement with Medens Corp. – a Dorado, Puerto Rico health IT firm – authorizes Medens Cloud, a cloud-based SOAPware EMR and practice management system. The Medens Cloud will increase efficiencies by providing an assortment of services allowing doctors to easily manage medical and financial data. Earlier this month, IBM launched Federal Community Cloud, which is used to assist in claims processing and research. The cloud has a high level of privacy and security and aids in the processing of electronic benefits claims, in addition to identifying waste, fraud and abuse in programs like Medicare. The New York Conference of Mayors (NYCOM), along with the Michigan Municipal League (MML), will be working with IBM to help member municipalities operate more efficiently. NYCOM and MML intend to collaborate on a pilot testing IBM's Municipal Shared Services Cloud.

According to research by Gartner, spending on revenue from cloud computing services is expected to grow from $68.3 billion in 2010 to $148.8 billion in 2014. However, some issues have been raised concerning security with cloud computing. These concerns may influence whether cloud computing is used in areas such as electronic health records, where patients have more control over where they choose to store information.

GovWin's Take:

With progress in health care reform, and cloud computing systems being built and implemented, vendors can expect to see more focus on true integration and sharing of information. For that, vendors should start brainstorming ways in which information can be seamlessly and securely shared to cut costs and improve efficiencies in health care. Also, the trend of quickly obtaining information makes the element of "real-time" an extremely appealing component to health IT. Information sharing is inevitably the final step in improving the deliverance of health to citizens; therefore, there must be a connection amongst these systems.

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