The Role of the Cloud in Surgery Management Software


If you haven’t noticed a huge trend in software is a move toward the “cloud.”  What does cloud mean exactly?  The National Institute of Science and Technology defines cloud as “a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared  pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.” International Data Corporation (IDC), an IT market research firm, says that the “Cloud model combines efficient use of multi-tenant resources, radically simplified packaging, self-service provisioning, highly elastic and granular scaling, flexible pricing, and broad leverage of Internet-standard technologies — to make offerings dramatically easier and cheaper to consume.”

No matter how you define it, most people would agree that there is some degree of movement from a heavier client/server model toward a more web based on-demand services model.  So I started wondering, how will this model impact surgery management software in the near term?

I have seen a demand from surgery management customers for reduced infrastructure and operational costs and a minimal capital investment in up front hardware and software costs, and even a few requests to move toward more flexible pay per use options with the ability to scale as their operations grow, but the percentage of the market that has moved to a pay per use model is still small.

Another benefit of broader access to data makes sense in some places in surgery management.  Some examples where this make sense are (secure) patient data sharing for day-before-surgery preparation, and mobile applications for remote (secure) monitoring of the patient schedule (for example for surgeon offices to make schedule requests.

Two areas of concern, however, will determine how quickly cloud is adopted in surgery management and those are (1) security and (2) bandwidth and performance dependencies.  In the highly regulated industry of healthcare data, security is no small matter and this applies to the ORs just as much as any other place in the hospital.  And in the ORs where the most highly acute patients pass through the hospital, and where  access to a patient’s record could quite possibly hold lifesaving information, not being able to access critical data due to bandwidth and performance limitations could have serious repercussions.

Given the different headwinds and tailwinds pushing cloud based applications into surgery management it will be very interesting to see the rate of adoption of this technology.  How long do you think it will be before your hospital moves surgery management applications into the cloud?

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