Health Care’s EHR Future is in the Clouds

Citing cost and speed benefits, cloud computing experts say health care will soon follow other industries in assimilating cloud-based computing to store and maintain patient records and claims, reports American Medical News. This could mean big changes for coding and billing practices.

For starters, amednews.com reporter Emily Berry said, health and claims data would be stored on designated online sites, where it would be more easily accessible, organized, and shared with a patient’s other caregiver(s) than if stored on a physical computer server in an office. For physician offices adopting electronic health records (EHRs), it would mean savings as far as hardware is concerned, but it would raise specters of personal health information (PHI) breaches, requiring vendors to develop sophisticated security mechanisms.

The Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) concept will drive data-sharing on the cloud as providers seek information to coordinate patient care, according to the July 23 report. Industry analysts predict providers will turn to handheld devices to access and document patient information.

Berry goes on to say that a July projection by Dallas-based consulting and forecasting firm MarketsandMarkets quantified the expected growth, predicting the global health care cloud computing market will be worth $5.4 billion in 2017, up from $1.8 billion in 2011. “Health system reform and payment changes are part of what will drive that growth,” Berry said.

“Health care organizations are expected to deliver more while limiting health care costs at the same time,” Berry said. “Despite this, a few factors restrain the growth of this market, with security and privacy concerns being the primary reasons for slow adoption of this technology.”

Other analysts and vendors who work in and are closely tracking cloud computing said they also expect rapid growth in cloud computing in health care. Some organizations are not waiting. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported in February that UnitedHealth Group’s Optum division was developing a cloud environment for storage and management of claims with IBM and other computer and software companies.

See AAPC News article “UHG Launches Health Care Data Through Cloud” for more information.

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3 Responses to “Health Care’s EHR Future is in the Clouds”

  1. James says:

    I am new to coding and billing, having graduated with a diploma in MBC last May. I now work as Medical Records Field Technician while searching for more permanent employment in the field. I am amazed at the state of health information in this computer age. Why does it take legislation to get providers to adapt these better, cheaper and far more efficient EMR systems? This is precisely why I entered the field of Healthcare Information. Hopefully, the days of paper records are coming to a close. With computers, the internet and now the cloud, medical records should become a component of billing and eliminate the need for records specialists altogether. I don’t want to see a branch of the medical industry disappear, but cost, efficiency and accuracy seem to lean this way. I have been banking electronically for many years (haven’t set foot in a bank since 2004) and my account information is far more valuable to me than my health information. It is about time the healthcare industry woke up and joined the rest of the world in the third millenium.

  2. Meryle says:

    If the healthcare environment is heading for the clouds, please remember the MAC users out here! I would like to see an equitable arrangement for EHR across the board, allowing MAC offices the exact same access rights to all necessary medical information. Thank you.

  3. Helen Royals says:

    I am dissappointed. No protection for the Private Health Information of our citizens, No Free enterprise operating, and No Hope for Excellent Health Care as we have known it. What happened to the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave?
    Let’s stop talking about Clouds and More Legislation.

    Can’t we simply stop the regulations of Health Care and allow our PHysicians to operate as the caring, well trained individuals that they have always been?

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