When you think about cloud…what is the first thing that comes to mind? Perhaps its the Rolling Stones classic song, “Get off of My Cloud”. Maybe it induces euphoric thoughts…”I’m on Cloud Nine”…or thoughts of despair…”Storm Clouds are approaching”. Metaphorically speaking, it can mean different things to different people. The same thing exists when talking about Cloud Computing. Some see it as a new silver bullet that will immediately revolutionize business operations…others see it as a passing fad…I view it as something in the middle. It is not something new…it is technology evolution dating back to the concepts of grid and utility computing. It’s capabilities, by definition, hold great promise…but, the realization of these capabilities will happen incrementally over time.
Before coming to Microsoft back in 2005, I spent 18+ years working in the Healthcare industry. As a general rule of thumb, I believe Healthcare companies are typically not on the leading edge of early technology adoption. For that to happen, it would require a “perfect storm” of ensuing change. In my current role @ Microsoft, I have a unique opportunity to work across the entire Healthcare and Life Sciences Industry. What I see as approaching trends may not be a perfect storm…but certainly represent a significant amount of change in the very near future. I believe reform legislation, economic concerns, rapid medical/technology advancements, and social media demands will drive the creation of a new consumer-centric virtual Healthcare marketplace. One that will give consumers access to relevant Health information…anyplace, anytime, anywhere.
I see this social Health marketplace manifesting itself in three logical phases. #1 Externalize Customer Relationship – Establish a social connection with your customer delivering contextually filtered public and private information via a custom web portal. #2 Expand Consumer Touch Points – Build out information driven applications that can run on many consumer platforms (web, pc, mobile, entertainment, gaming…). #3 Establish Marketplace capabilities – Create a collaborative virtual healthcare ecosystem (users, data, services, applications). Ok…so why do I need the cloud computing to do this? What I have outlined is very disruptive business change. It demands business agility and responsive IT capabilities. What Cloud Computing offers is a low cost way to rapidly configure compute & storage…IT agility.
Getting back to the main subject of this blog… “3 Screens and a Cloud”…for Healthcare. In the new Social Health Marketplace, consumers will demand personalized health information…with an expectation that is will be available everywhere…in the hospital, at the pharmacy, in your car, on the TV, inside your games, on the moon. You get the picture. : )
Microsoft's “3 Screens and a Cloud” vision includes a common development tool suite (Visual studio/.NET) that allows you to write applications once and run them everywhere (web, pc, mobile, and more) integrated with the cloud to provide lights on compute and storage (Windows Azure), social community connectivity (xbox, zune, live), and integrated access to managed & unmanaged data sources.
Here’s a real world example from A.D.A.M, a leading provider of consumer health information and benefits technology solutions to 500+ Hospitals in the US. The following video demonstration was shot @ the Cloud Computing Expo in NYC. Here’s some interesting facts to consider as you view the video;
Social Media is powerful. I believe its effects on the future on Healthcare will be revolutionary…and the cloud will be the “silver lining” IT delivery foundation.
Stay tuned for more insights and solutions examples in the future.