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Cloud Computing

What happens when HIEs meet Web 2.0?

How cloud computing and service-oriented architecture (SOA) work with healthcare information exchanges (HIEs). By Rey Currie

ccording to Wikipedia, cloud computing is Internet-based computing with shared resources, software and information pro- vided to computers and other devices on demand, similar to how electricity runs through a distribution grid. Both the Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and the cloud-based Sales-Force Automation (SFA) are examples of cloud computing at its finest, provid- ing an enterprise-caliber platform with measurable benefits.


More and more organizations are seriously con- sidering cloud computing as a deployment option and/or are revamping applications to run in the cloud. Why? Because cloud computing may result in reduced operating costs, since implementations are typically less expensive than solutions deployed in an on-premise data center (where you have the costs of hardware, software and human resources).

So what about the HIE?

Is it a good prospect for the cloud? HIEs help move clinical information among dispa- rate healthcare information systems electronically. They facilitate access and retrieval of clinical data to provide safer, timelier, efficient, effective, equi- table, patient-centered care. Based on these defini- tions, it would seem that deploying an HIE via the cloud would be a match made in heaven. The potential benefits of SOA-based HIE include a major reduction in the cost of software develop- ment, as well as a quicker, more agile way to build new exchange applications as business needs change. SOA-based exchanges also provide flexibility in deployment models – from a centralized, totally off-premise model to a hybrid model where certain components of the exchange are on premise and others are centrally hosted. When you combine SOA, cloud computing and collaboration, you have the makings of a Web 2.0-based exchange, which facilitates interactive

18 October 2010

The potential benefi ts of an SOA-based HIE include a major reduction in the cost of software development, as well as a quicker, more agile way to build new exchange applications as business needs change.

information sharing among like-minded groups of individuals. In an HIE, this means that a patient care team can take part in meaningful conversa- tions around timely, correctly formatted patient data within a work flow established by the HIE consumer.

The next-generation, SOA-based HIE offers a contextual edge and collaboration within a loosely coupled network of care providers and stakeholders. Virtually matrixed teams composed of individuals with diverse competencies, knowledge and capabili- ties will need to be assembled on the fly within the exchange. These teams will collaborate within the exchange, just like we see people collaborating on wikis, Facebook and blogs.

In his book, “Cloud Computing and SOA Con- HEALTH MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGY

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