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Cloud Outage Highlights Pitfalls as Well as Promise

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media, August 14, 2012

The question isn't should you use cloud computing. The question is how.

First tip: Don't go all in without some sort of disaster recovery plan. Disasters do happen in the cloud. Earlier this month, dozens of hospitals temporarily lost access to patient records due to a cloud outage.

They should have asked the tougher questions earlier of their cloud service providers. In this case, it was Cerner Corporation, which attributed the outage to human error. The outage affected Adventist Health, which reverted to using paper-based records during the five-hour interruption in service.

Having just written a story about the cloud for HealthLeaders magazine, I was startled by just how many hospitals appear to have entrusted their EHRs to someone else's data center. Dell Healthcare recently told me it hosts more than 500 hospitals' EHRs in its cloud. Many Cerner customers run their own data centers, but an increasing number do not, leaving the hosting to Cerner.

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