Moving to the Cloud
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For 2012, Menefee has more cloud adoption on tap. He's considering cloud alternatives for single sign-on and identity-management solutions that would simplify access to patient data, and he's looking at whether the company's virtualized data center assets can run on cloud-based services. Even more pressing is his search for a health information exchange platform that will enable Schumacher to aggregate data from the hundreds of hospitals with which it works closely.
Menefee says he's deciding between Medicity's cloud-based health information exchange solution and Microsoft's on-premise Amalga offering. His staff is conducting a total-cost-of-ownership analysis of the two solutions, and he expects to make a final decision in early 2012 and begin implementation during the second quarter. Menefee says the multimillion-dollar effort will command as much as 10 percent of his 2012 budget.
Unlike hospitals that enable the exchange of electronic health records, Schumacher doesn't qualify for incentives from 2009's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, notes Menefee. That's not stopping him from pursuing what he expects to be a competitive differentiator. "We want to be positioned, two or three years from now, when hospitals are exchanging data elements instead of paper," he says.
Menefee also is focused on expanding Schumacher's capabilities on the mobile front, with the goal of enabling physicians, nurses and other hospital personnel to access patient data from wherever they are. Currently, the company supports employees using a variety of mobile devices by developing applications with HTML5, the latest programming language for delivering Web-based content, especially multimedia.
Schumacher builds only native apps for Apple devices, but Menefee wants to change that. His staff is working on a framework that would enable the company to publish native apps to multiple device platforms. That would position Schumacher to deliver apps more quickly and cost-effectively than before, a necessity in a fast-changing market.
"I have to view everything we do in the mobile space as having a short life," says Menefee. "You're developing solutions that might not be around in six months for a variety of reasons. You've got to have an agile mindset. You've got to identify the business need and deliver a solution very quickly. Until there's standardization, we're going to continue to struggle to keep up."