By Gary Palgon, VP Healthcare Solutions, Liaison Healthcare Informatics
It was only a matter of time, but we’re beginning to see HIEs realize that they can take advantage of cloud-based models to both lower capital expenses, but also propel them forward at a faster pace – both which are crucial for sustainability. The Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) model has shown itself in other industries as a useful means helping HIEs reduce costs. It does this by allowing the sharing of infrastructure and possibly even applications across multiple HIEs making up a regional health information organization as recently noted in the Government Health IT article “The upside of treating HIE like a public utility.” This makes communication among providers more efficient and eliminates the need to build and eventually replace costly hardware and software. Furthermore, if a provider builds its own system, it must take time adding its own features and functions like event notifications. Since these are already part of the PaaS, this saves the provider time and money. Ensuring that the HIE meets standards is another task that can be outsourced as part of the PaaS model.
Illinois and Iowa have already implemented a cloud-based approach to their HIEs, since the approach does not require a large capital investment at first and can be scaled up as demand rises. Illinois specifically took the cloud path due to tight budgets necessitating low-cost solutions; constructing its own proprietary infrastructure was ruled out due to its high cost. In the case of Iowa, they are actually providing their services to others, acting as a cloud itself.
And saving money will be important to more than just Illinois. Many existing HIEs are dependent on federal monies to sustain them and will run into trouble as the initial grants run out. Using a cloud model eliminates high initial capital costs and replaces them with ongoing operational expenses, allowing more of the initial grant to be saved for later use.
Have you looked at cloud-based options for integration as opposed to the typical cloud uses such as extra storage space and CPU bursting?
Until next time,