When we buy a paper book or a DVD video what we are really doing is assuring access to that “content” whenever we want. If we want to read it or view it we just go to the shelf and get it. But if we can just go to the Internet and get it streamed to our e-reader we have the same benefit of ownership we just don’t actually have a physical book. But do you really own that e-book?
So how about a patient chart? We have charts stacked on shelves because we need assured access to that info whenever we need it. However if we could get the same chart info from the cloud anywhere any time wouldn’t that be just as good. In fact better as you could get the data at home or while traveling you don’t have to actually be at your office.
From a purely intellectual point of view cloud storage of digital content makes perfect sense it just seems strange and risky to us. Just as we are becoming comfortable with storing important information in the cloud another huge data breach is announced on the news. Then there is the other question. Who owns data in the cloud?
The vast majority of reported data breaches in healthcare (62%) are the result of lost or stolen computers. Not malicious hackers. That means that cloud based record storage is actually safer than storing the data on a computer in your closet. If the data is in the cloud there is no need to have the data stored on a local computer. If a burglar steals a computer out of the office that has no patient data on it there is no breach.
Data storage is just one aspect of cloud computing. What is even better but also even harder to accept is that the actual computing takes place in the cloud. We don’t have any software applications installed on our local computer we just exchange data with a big server in the sky and the actual processing of the data takes place in the cloud.
This idea was originally called ASP (Application Service Provider) and has been a wonderful but elusive geek dream for almost twenty years. Several dental management systems have been launched based on the ASP or cloud model and the early ones all failed. As have most of the general cloud based business applications. They failed for a variety of reasons including people’s distrust of the Internet and worries about the system failing.