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Meaningful Health Care Informatics Blog

Mar 20 2011   4:33PM GMT

Cloud 2.0 based collaboration tool for ACOs

Posted by: RedaChouffani
ACO tools, collaboration,

For many years, we have known that physicians and health care providers in general need to utilize an electronic health record (EHR) system to ensure that patient information is readily available anytime, and from anywhere. Not only does it make medical data widely available, but it also assists in clinical decision support, and we are reminded daily of the value to both patients and care givers alike. But the minute we start to consider the information that lives outside of the walls of the organization, we realize that not everyone uses the same data in the same way, or through the same tools — unless, that is, you are operating under one unified system.

As we see organizations beginning to review the Accountable Care Organization (ACO) model, it becomes clear that we may need to find a different, more efficient way to collaborate and coordinate care. A method that will make it easier on everyone to access health related information of a patient, from several sources and in different formats, without the need to learn multiple products. The current models available will prove to be challenging for everyone, unless, of course, they invest heavily into a community based HIE or advanced interfaces. And it is to be expected that we will have physician led ACOs who may not use a common platform for their patient health records, and may still find difficulties in getting specific pieces of information that an HIE might not provide immediately (imaging, for example).

This past week, I was attending a session presented by the head of healthcare at It was a great presentation that covered cloud computing, or to be exact, “Cloud 2 for health care.” This session was offered by The North Carolina Healthcare Information and Communications Alliance Inc. (NCHICA) and boasted several local CIOs and healthcare professionals in attendance. During the presentation, presenter Dave King discussed some of the incredible statistics on both the growth and impact that companies and products, such as and Apple’s iPad, respectively, have achieved. He also described how such new platforms and products changed the way that we both communicate and interact with mobile devices. It was during that very moment that I wondered: will healthcare see a similar paradigm shift when dealing with electronic medical records (EMRs)?.

I started to imagine a cloud based application that was similar to Facebook, but patient-centric. Think of a website such as (of course, this name is already taken). Such an idea (and not necessarily a good one either) which would increase adoption of collaborative tools, would share Facebook’s same basic ease of use, with a few, simple modifications to it which allow more direct collaboration on patient care. I would envision the capabilities being as follows:

· Video conferencing capabilities to allow care givers to collaborate (this functionality can be adopted from some of the existing third party providers for video/audio conferencing).

· Document sharing capabilities with easy to use search functionality (DICOM, Jpg/PDF/and anything that maybe used to help diagnose and care for patients).

· Announcements and discussions sections.

· Real-time integration with HIE to make available lab results, soap notes, medication list, problem list, etc..

· An option to publish selected data to a PHR (information that can be tagged or shared with Patient Health Information).

· The system must be available from anywhere at anytime.

· Easy to use interface.

· Extendable and open architecture.

· Exposed APIs to encourage add-on development.

· Strong security to protect patient data.

· The platform can be hosted in private/public cloud (this will allow communities to host their own collaboration platform)

· Accessibility through mobile platforms

· And best of all if it can be open source (wishful thinking to reduce cost and encourage innovation).

The intent is to facilitate the collaboration on patient care. As changes continue to come through different mandates, technology must continue to be an enabler for the market place. And while the is not an existing product, some similar concepts have been introduced to the market, one of which is Voyant Health (a web portal for orthopedics surgeons and radiologist can collaborate and share images outside the clinics, est. in 2010).

I am confident that the market will see incredible innovations and new tools will continue to be developed to facilitate patient care as well as care provider’s collaboration.


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