What’s cloud computing all about?
When thinking how best to relate cloud computing to healthcare and foodservice, I am reminded of the 1970s musical, “On a Clear Day, You Can See Forever.” With today’s technological advances, it seems we could change that to read “on a cloudy day, you can reach forever.”
Google’s Chrome team describes the cloud as having the net effect of plugging into thousands of computers from all over the world, simultaneously. Unleashing that amount of info-power has opened up unlimited opportunities and resources, in every area imaginable. In our personal lives, we use the cloud for banking, shopping, weather reports, to watch videos and TV, to read the latest news, and to visit virtually with one another with social networking providers.
Is cloud computing really private?
There are several types of cloud computing, ranging from public and private cloud paradigms to hybrid configurations. Public clouds are generally open to everyone, as with major internet search engines or online encyclopedias. Private clouds restrict user access and encrypt sensitive data, usually with private networks (VPNs).
Many of us worry about exposing private matters to the Internet, particularly in areas of patient confidentiality and sensitive human resources information. Today’s cloud technology meets (and often exceeds) governmental privacy standards, as demonstrated with the close administration of HIPAA and patient Electronic Health Records (EHR) management.
Applications have been refined into privately-hosted solutions, offering secure access to state-of-the-art hardware, with the latest software versions, and sophisticated systems monitoring. The collaborative efforts of superior hardware, software, and security monitoring represent the foundation of “Software as a Service” (SaaS) environments. As a side note, a true SaaS environment offers one software version to all customers, as opposed to hosting the hardware for site-specific software versions.
How does cloud computing relate to healthcare, and more specifically, food service?
In hospital food & nutrition departments, the cloud provides more info-power than many of us realize.
- Hospital networks safely extend access authentication to home computers, smart phones, and tablets. We no longer have to be at our desk to get to files, or to check our emails. Shared storage gives everyone the same information from the same files and the same revisions.
- Patient EHRs have improved communication across allied health providers. Team members no longer wait in line to get access to the patient chart or the most current lab values.
- Food manufacturers and vendors use the cloud for customers to place orders, check product availability, and validate patient safety (nutrient/allergy) information.
- The USDA-FNIC offers searchable/printable nutrient data from SR25 to the public. Nutritional standards (DRIs, RDIs) are available for download from The National Academy of Sciences’ websites.
Vision Software was the first vendor to offer its hosted SaaS application, using virtualized private cloud technology, to hospital food & nutrition departments.
by Annie Conley, Director of Client System Integration, Vision Software