Healthcare leaders and clinicians often talk about the importance of having data available at the right place at the right time. Cloud computing can collect and organize data from a variety of sources—from EMRs to pharmacy records to claims. And it puts it in the hands of primary care physicians, specialty physicians, nurses, other hospital employees, and patients. "It's literally available anywhere, anytime. If you have a Web-based link and an account, you can get in," says Richard Mohnk, vice president and chief information officer at HealthAlliance Hospital in Leominster, MA.
It takes time to learn a new system, input data, and adjust to changes in workflow—these are all common grievances among physicians when it comes to electronic health systems. "The more you can make it so that it's something people can teach themselves, the better off you're going to be," Mohnk says. And clinicians who have pet devices such as iPhones or iPads can use devices that they're already familiar with to access data. New Wi-Fi channels can handle greater amounts of data than earlier versions. The Wi-Fi protocol (802.11n) allows sharing of radiology images, video, and other multigigabyte files on more kinds of devices.
To read more about how a number of organizations, including The Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, FL, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, and Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center in Boston are using cloud computing to transfer diagnostic images, read Data in the Clouds in the October issue of HealthLeaders magazine.