Posts Tagged cloud computing

Our Head in the Clouds…

We have been talking a lot lately about “cloud computing.” This may sound like some new-fangled idea to suddenly hit the market, but in reality it has been around for quite some time. Let’s take a look at the basics behind cloud computing and why it is so important to the future of healthcare IT.

Cloud computing is basically a way of delivering hosted services via the Internet. Its name comes from the “cloud” image commonly used to represent multiple computers around the world being connected together (i.e. the World Wide Web). These services (or platforms) are hosted on a main server, thus enabling users to log in remotely and avoid installing software on their own computers. The only software needed is a Web browser.

The Internet is everywhere…thanks to Wi-Fi, 3G, and those “can you hear me now” commercials. Cloud computing, as a result, has grown exponentially in recent years. There are lots of cloud computing applications that you probably already use. Some notable applications include Gmail, Amazon.com, Quickbooks Online, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr.com, Blogspot, Google Docs, PayPal, your online bank statements, and more. These platforms or services allow you to access your information from any computer with an Internet connection (without installing the software on your computer).

Banking, entertainment, and personal communications industries have recognized the value of cloud computing. They’ve noticed that individuals and businesses want to be more efficient and more streamlined, and they’ve responded with market-driven solutions. “There’s an app for that,” so to speak.

But in the healthcare IT world, practices have been slow to adopt the cloud technology. The key words are “have been.” Things are changing rapidly, thanks to healthcloud solutions like Case-Connect. The introduction of this new “healthcloud” is being accelerated by increased awareness of benefits, a stronger commitment to improved efficiency, and government initiatives requiring technology upgrades. Electronic Health Records (EHR) and practice management tools are looking to use cloud technologies to get the job done.

We are at the precipice of a new era in healthcare IT. Great things await us as we move forward with new ideas and new technologies. Surgical Data Solutions is poised to stay on the cutting edge as we move forward.

The future is bright and the sun is beginning to shine…through the clouds.

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Case-Connect Selected as Semi-Finalist in Force.com Showcase

“Don’t worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition.”
-Abraham Lincoln

Here at Case-Connect, we have done our best to provide a product worthy of recognition. We’ve received tremendous positive feedback from surgeons, schedulers, device reps, and hospital staff who have seen the benefits of this unique program. We haven’t really sought the recognition of those outside our niche…but they have found us, anyway.

I’m pleased to announce that Case-Connect has been selected as a semi-finalist in the Force.com Forty Innovation Showcase.

We have been selected from hundreds of cloud-based applications that use the force.com platform. Next week, I will have the opportunity to present our product to a panel of judges in San Francisco. If all goes well, we could earn the chance to present Case-Connect at Dreamforce 2009, the premier cloud-computing event of the year.

It’s nice to receive this type of recognition, even if we weren’t seeking it. As the nation continues to focus on healthcare and new ways of promoting efficiency, Case-Connect is emerging as a relevant voice in the conversation. Our platform has many of the answers to the healthcare IT questions, and it’s nice to know that others are beginning to take notice.

So here we go, buckle up for the ride. This is just the beginning…there don’t seem to be any limits as to where Case-Connect can go from here.

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Online Scheduling is the Best Tool in Your Bag

You’ve probably seen a television show where a vacationing doctor miraculously performs a life-saving surgery using a ball point pen, a paper clip, and a restaurant napkin. Impressive? You bet. Plausible? Well, maybe not so much. Ideal? Obviously not.

When it boils right down to it, you need the best tools available to help you succeed. You wouldn’t dream of going into surgery with whatever you happen to have in your lunch bag or briefcase. There are specialized instruments that help you get the job done right: forceps, retractors, etc. The same principals that apply in the OR also apply in your office – you need specialized instruments to help you do the job the right way.

There are many tools available to schedule a surgery. The fax machine, the telephone, a pad of paper, and Post-it notes are old favorites. These “tools,” however, are the equivalent of the ball point pen in a surgery – they may (or may not) get the job done in a pinch but will undoubtedly leave collateral damage. There is a better way to schedule.

Enter cloud computing. The Internet Revolution has opened the doors to a whole new world of resources. By using the miracle of modern information technology, Case-Connect has developed an online surgical scheduling platform that gives surgical office a whole new set of tools. Surgical schedulers can now schedule a surgery with multiple participants with a single click of the mouse.

Think of Case-Connect as your clean, sterilized surgical tray. It will give you the options and flexibility needed to perform a life-saving operation on your bottom-line.

There’s no reason to use an old makeshift tool like the fax machine. In a pinch, you can probably get away with sending a few schedules using the old telephone-line-connected-to-a-typewriter trick. But that is unlikely — you won’t ever be in a scheduling pinch again. Thanks to cloud computing, your surgical schedules are always only an Internet connection away. It’s time to get connected with the right tools.

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Going Green with Cloud Computing


We’ve discussed the financial advantages to using a web-based scheduling system. We have also outlined the time-saving features of cloud computing. One benefit we haven’t yet explored is how an online surgical scheduling platform can be good for the environment.

Now, I’m not saying that a cloud computing solution will produce an endless supply of clean water or save the panda bears. It will, however, help your practice to be environmentally responsible without putting forth much effort. With a cloud computing system such as Case-Connect, your most important benefits are unbelievable cost-savings and significant time-management improvements…the “green” part is merely a free bonus.

Green Benefits

First, an online platform decreases the need for bulky, energy guzzling computer systems. Scheduling via a cloud computing system does not require multiple, specialized computers loaded with extensive software programs. A simple computer with an Internet connection is all that is needed. Office staff may be able to use energy saving laptops or streamlined desktops to do the same work that was once done through multiple networked computers, fax machines, and photocopiers.

Another green benefit that comes from cloud computing is paper conservation. Online processes eliminate the need for hard-copy schedules, stat sheets, and confirmation notices. Information sent through a web-based system also eliminates the need for a fax machine. When your practice is free of the fax machine and other print-based systems, you can rid yourself of reams of unneeded paper. File cabinet space opens up, more trees remain in the forest, and paper-cut incidences reduce dramatically.

Our Small Part

Like I said, cloud computing may not save the planet. What it will do is save you money, time, and a lot of headaches. It will give you the satisfaction of knowing that you are doing your small part to be environmentally responsible. In the end, isn’t that all we can ask of ourselves?*

*If that isn’t enough, take some of the money you save using a cloud computing system like Case-Connect and adopt a panda bear…

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Cloud Computing Brings Big Savings to Healthcare


Whether or not you agree with the new healthcare bill, one thing makes sense – saving money. The Democrats say that there are ways to save up to $500 billion by making Medicare more efficient…Republicans would be happy to save that kind of money from a public program. The argument seems to be what to do with the extra money once it is found. That’s a topic for someone else’s blog. We’re here to talk about saving you money.

What would you do with extra money in your bottom line? Are there ways for you to “trim the fat,” so to speak? There may not be $500 billion floating around in your overhead, but there is definitely some cash that would be better spent elsewhere.

The experts seem to agree that a big chunk of this wasted money can be saved through streamlined processes and technology improvements. The same goes for your practice – efficiency is always good economics. By implementing a few modern procedures in lieu of outdated stand-bys, everyone’s wallet seems to benefit. Savings attained by surgeons, hospitals, and vendors eventually work their way down to patients.

Cloud computing is the modern procedure that will make the most difference; both short-term and for the future. Let’s take a look at the cost and efficiency savings that come through cloud computing (savings that have been enjoyed by other industries for some time now).

Cash-flow
Freeing up cash-flow is paramount to freeing yourself. If you could distance yourself from one more nagging liability on your balance sheet, your world would be a better place. Cloud computing does just that. Since cloud computing applications use web-based platforms, you avoid costly infrastructure and IT costs. Most credible software as a service (SaaS) applications are pay-as-you-go, thus eliminating the need for big, static liabilities.

Instant Implementation
Unlike many software and IT solutions that require weeks or months of initial training, cloud computing options typically hit the ground running. Intuitive design and ease of operation make cloud computing options a great way to save on training costs. Time saved in the implementation process also means a quicker road to efficiency and money-saving results.

Increased Productivity
Working with a cloud computing system will bring your office increased productivity. Let’s take scheduling as an example: Surgical schedulers have been plagued by outdated methods since…well, since the fax machine was invented. A cloud computing service, such as Case-Connect, opens the doors to much-improved productivity. Surgical offices can now schedule many more cases in a shorter period of time. The efficiency of Case-Connect also affects the surgeon’s productivity by eliminating scheduling errors and wasted trips to the OR. Surgical offices are free to book more cases and grow their practice because of their newfound productivity.

Cloud computing may have taken a while to enter the healthcare sector, but it is a welcomed addition. While the politicians discuss healthcare reform in Washington, we can find our own hidden treasures in our own procedures. Cloud computing opens the doors to significant savings – and while it may not bring $500 billion in lost revenue, it will eliminate our version of “wasteful” spending.

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Cloud Computing Making Splash in all Sectors of Healthcare

Cloud computing is nothing new…but it is starting to make headway in the healthcare industry. Cloud computing, or the system of operating using an Internet based system, is widely used in business. Don’t believe me? Do a Google search for Google and see what pops up. Online solutions are running rampant. Until recently, however, healthcare IT hadn’t been able to harness the power of the cloud.

EMR

The old way...There has been a lot of talk recently about making healthcare services more efficient. One of the major tenets of improved healthcare efficiency is converting paper-based files to electronic medical records (EMR). The issue has not been resolved in the past due to security issues and the fact that medical offices and hospitals each have their own internal software setups – few of which are compatible with each other. Cloud computing has allowed for an adequate solution.

Keeping medical records on a centralized, online server is the most secure way to handle sensitive information. It is also the best way to ensure that information is easily shared between hospitals and physicians – competing internal software platforms are not an issue in cloud computing models. While there is still debate about how to bring about this change, most agree that cloud-computing is a viable way to make EMR a reality.

Research

Researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin recently completed a comprehensive study of proteins that resulted in valuable data that could be used across the world. This type of research has been difficult in the past due to outrageous expenses associated with buying and maintaining software programs required to analyze data. With cloud computing, things have changed.

The Medical College of Wisconsin has employed a cloud computing application that allows other research and medical facilities to access a free set of data analysis tools. These medical facilities no longer require the expensive software to study crucial data – they merely need a viable Internet connection!

Surgical Scheduling

In the past, surgical schedulers were required to fax information about an upcoming surgery to hospitals, support staff, device reps, and even patients. Never mind the computer sitting on their desk; everyone demanded paper copies via the fax machine. Just like with the EMR upgrade, cloud computing has provided surgical schedulers a better way.

Case-Connect Online Surgical SchedulingCase-Connect, a cloud computing based system of surgical scheduling, streamlines the entire process. All applicable parties to the surgery are notified via online communication and have the opportunity to view pertinent data online. No more lost papers or endless follow-up calls. Surgical offices will reap the benefits of improved surgical scheduling and lower costs.

The cloud computing revolution has taken a bit longer to reach our field, but we should embrace its arrival. It’s about time – we deserve the help!

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Online Surgical Scheduling is the Gateway to Cloud Computing

If you have been following this blog for a few weeks, you know that I have been harsh on surgical offices for not embracing change and technology as quickly as they should. To be fair, there is a sector of the healthcare industry that is lagging even further behind, and you probably deal with them every day: hospitals.

Henry Ford changed the world with his innovation. According to Wikipedia (and I have no reason to doubt them), “the assembly line developed by Ford Motor Company between 1908 and 1915 made assembly lines famous. However, the various preconditions for the development at Ford stretched far back into the 19th century.”

Henry Ford didn’t implement the assembly line in one day…it took years to perfect and implement into the industry. The same goes for the digital revolution – it has been an ongoing process for several decades. Thankfully, now is the time to reap the fruits of so much hard work.

For some reason, hospital administrators have not yet seen the value — or rather the necessity — of switching to a digital scheduling system. Hospitals aren’t afraid of technology…if they were, we wouldn’t have CT, EKG, MRI, PACS, or any number of other high-tech acronyms.

For some reason, however, their comfort zone in scheduling is found in fax machines, hard copies, Post-it notes, and file cabinets. They want something tangible in their hands at all times. Fax machines are their scheduling security blanket, in a manner of speaking. It’s not really their fault – that’s how they were raised, and they have yet to be weaned. They’ve never really been held accountable to provide efficient scheduling procedures to partner surgeons…yet.

Until now, the surgical world has gone along for the ride. But times are changing, and we can’t afford to wait for the hospital giants to embrace inevitable (and welcomed) technology. Online surgical scheduling via a cloud computing platform is the perfect way to let hospitals dip their toes in the water, so to speak.

Nicholas Carr outlines the big switch to cloud computing and software as a service (SaaS) products in his book: Big Switch: Rewiring the World, from Edison to Google. Carr asserts that conversion to cloud computing won’t come as a big bang, but as a slow swapping out of services over time. By starting with something relatively small (but vitally important) like surgical scheduling, hospitals can experience the efficiency and cost-saving benefits of a SaaS platform.

Bigger changes are certainly coming. Electronic medical record (EMR) services are a hot topic of the healthcare reform debate. At the recent meeting of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, Eric Schmidt of Google had a voice of warning for the federal government. He stated that by not utilizing a cloud computing model, “hospitals and doctors would continue using an outdated system of databases in what is becoming an increasingly Web-focused world.” The cloud computing model is primed to lead the medical field into a new dawn of productivity and cost savings.

The online-cloud-SaaS revolution is knocking at the door. Just as the world eventually realized the value of assembly lines, healthcare is beginning to realize the importance of efficiency, privacy, and streamlined processes. Maybe hospitals are not yet ready for the complete assembly line…but it’s time they started getting used to a conveyer belt.

Online surgical scheduling (spelled: Case-Connect) is the perfect way for hospitals to begin their foray into the digital world. They’ll never look back.

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