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Cloud Outage Highlights Pitfalls as Well as Promise

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media, August 14, 2012

(Health information exchanges are different than health insurance exchanges, even though sloppy marketers and journalists call them both HIEs. For the record, the correct abbreviation of health insurance exchange is HIX.)

The function of HIEs and cloud computing seem to be a natural fit. Private HIEs appear to be taking off faster than public ones, but don't you think set-ups like Colorado's are more cost-efficient and resource-savvy—not to mention less chaotic—than a plethora of private HIEs would be all over the state? Yet Colorado is the only state that has gone this route.

I understand the continuing tension over private versus public in healthcare. Private systems often innovate more rapidly. Cloud technology will proliferate in private networks as well as public. But accountability will be radically different. If the Colorado Telehealth Network has an outage, there will be immediate explanations, and they won't leave us wondering what really happened.

Which is not to say that private technology companies won't build the public-financed clouds. In the case of Colorado, Summer says the organization started by evaluating the offerings of five companies: GNAX Health, Merge Healthcare, TeraMedica, Iron Mountain, and Dell Healthcare. So far, they've narrowed the selection down to GNAX Health and Merge Healthcare. There will be only one winner, which hasn't been announced yet.

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