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Are cloud based record banks superior to HIEs for data sharing ?



Health information exchanges, as currently constructed, are an “inefficient” means of sharing healthcare data due to interoperability issues, according to a commentary published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association. A better solution–according to authors Edward Shortliffe of Arizona State University, Latanya Sweeney of Harvard University and William Yasnoff of consulting firm National Health Information Infrastructure Advisors–would be to use cloud-based health record banks that could allow patients more control over their information.

The authors called current systems “institution-centric,” adding that such an approach to sharing data is “complex,” “expensive” and “prone to errors.”

“The problem is that health IT is on the wrong path,” the authors said. “The current approach involves trying to use HIT to replicate existing manual process for contacting other clinicians or healthcare organizations to get patient records instead of creating a single, unified record for each patient, as has been done for years with paper records within single hospitals and clinics.”


Yasnoff, in an interview with MedPage Today, said that nationwide cloud-based communities would increase scalability for the sharing of patient information.

In a paper recently published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, Nitesh Chawla, Ph.D., from the University of Notre Dame’s department of computer science and engineering, explored use of Amazon’s Virtual Private Cloud for creating a HIPAA-compliant environment suitable for conducting research. Chawla concluded that the prototype he and his colleagues developed could be used in a HIPAA-compliant manner, adding that cloud computing has the capability to speed up research efforts.

Still, security concerns about proprietary data and applications persist, as evidenced by a recent survey conducted by technology vendor CDW published last month. The survey found that out of eight industries, healthcare ranked seventh in terms of cloud adoption.

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