By Gary Palgon, VP Healthcare Solutions, Liaison Healthcare Informatics
Cloud computing—the delivery of hardware and software services over the Internet rather than having them physically on-hand—has shown immense promise in allowing healthcare providers to operate top of the line infrastructure much more cheaply than buying and maintaining it all themselves.
However, Kathleen Roney has identified a few obstacles for cloud computing to be wildly successful in healthcare though none seem that difficult to overcome if much of the politics can be removed.
She notes HIPAA was formulated in 1996 when data transfer was only partially electronic, and the institutional nature of the industry, one that is focused on the system and not truly the patient, are barriers. She’s right and references Tom Loker, author of The History of Evolution of Healthcare in America, who said HIPAA rules need to be updated along with the culture who really has authority over patient data.
For this to be successful, progress needs to be made around patient consent, making patients the true owners of their data. Too many doctors today believe it’s their data and therefore do not share. Some progress is already being made directionally here. Many Health Information Exchanges (HIEs) started out by requiring patients to “opt in” to sharing their data, but many in the past two years have started to reverse that notion and require participants to “opt out” instead. This culture is most prevalent with patients faced with life-threatening conditions who almost always agree to have their health information shared if it can contribute to curing their disease.
As Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) are formed, it requires groups of doctors and institutions to share data to better care for their participant members. The nature of this model, in order to be successful, must include the electronic exchange of patient data. Given that it directly affects their revenue stream, hopefully they will be more willing to relinquish “ownership” of their patient data and turn it over to their patients. Consent Management applications will contribute to solving this, putting them in control of who sees what health care data of theirs.
The good news is that the cloud is the perfect place for both the exchange of information and the consent (or not) of use of the sensitive data to be addressed given they are functions that must be addressed by multiple entities, beyond the “four walls” of any single institution.
What’s your take on cloud-based services in healthcare?
Until next time,