Cloud computing and electronic health records: New trend?

Cloud computing developed through a natural evolution of virtualization, service-oriented architecture, and utility computing. It is best described as a dynamically scalable delivery model for Internet-based IT services. Gartner Research defines cloud computing as "a style of computing where massively scalable IT-related capabilities are provided'as a service' using Internet technologies to multiple external customers."

Many electronic health records (EHR) application vendors are providing ?cloud-like? solutions such as application hosting or software-as-a-service (SaaS) models. Application services run on remote-hosted platforms as well as on a client (computer or mobile device). Access to applications and clinical data is delivered through terminal services technology or virtual private networks, giving the illusion of a truly web-based application or thin client.

Today, as cloud computing becomes a more mainstream technology, physician practices and healthcare organizations are evaluating whether this platform holds the answer for a less expensive, more secure alternative to traditional computing networks. To better understand the possibility of this computing power, it is important to examine the cultural impact and the challenges of deploying EHR on a cloud computing platform against the benefits.

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