The Cloud Computing as the Tool for Implementation of Virtual Organization Technology for eHealth

The Cloud Computing as the Tool for Implementation of Virtual Organization Technology for eHealth

Ekaterine Kldiashvili (Georgian Telemedicine Union, Georgia)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/jitr.2012010102
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Abstract

Information and communication technologies have become the essential part of societal life and practical activity. eHealth can be designated as a special form of information and communication technologies. It is obvious that eHealth has a great potentiality; however today there are unfortunately only a few examples of its large services. Efficient, effective, and reliable systems for remote consultations and distance education are the top requirements for eHealth. Cloud computing has emerged as an important new field, distinguished from conventional distributed computing by its focus on large-scale sharing, innovative applications, and, in some cases, high-performance orientation. The authors define Cloud computing as flexible, secure, coordinated resource sharing among dynamic collections of individuals, institutions, and resources – what can be described as “virtual organizations.” It is plausible that this technology has more potential and can improve health care services, benefit health care research, and change the face of health information technology. However, cloud computing should be rigorously evaluated before its widespread adoption. Over the past five years, research and development activities have produced protocols, services, and tools. The present article discusses the application of virtual organization technology for eHealth purposes.
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Introduction

The term globalization involves a complex series of economic, social, technological, and political changes seen as increasing interdependence and interaction between people and companies in disparate locations. The phenomenon of globalization has already reached the medical field, most importantly in the areas of knowledge, diagnosis and therapy. The access of as many people as possible to these areas should be guaranteed by a technically efficient man-machine interacting system and by an effective organization of specialists around the world. An efficiently operational and organized exchange of medical information increases the quality of diagnosis and therapy, and assures the training and continuous education of the medical personnel. The main task of a medical information system is to enable medical non-experts to gather, exchange, and discuss relevant data at any time with experts at any place of the world. A wise conception of such a structured dialogue for consultations and continuing medical education is based on a user-friendly, fast, simple, efficient and sustainable system for the exchange of medical information.

Several years ago any talk related to the Internet would have to be proceeded by an explanation of what it is and how it works, but at present information and communication technologies (ICT) became the essential part of our life and practical activity. eHealth can be designated as a special form of ICT; as a method of delivering of medical services by electronic means of communication, with the provider and the recipient of these services being at different places.

The introduction of eHealth applications often result in substantial changes in healthcare practices. Investments in eHealth are usually accompanied by improvement in the quality of care and services, shorter turnaround times and more availability of information. As a consequence there are significant changes in health outcomes and patient satisfaction. A continuous assessment is required to appreciate and respond to changes after the introduction of eHealth in a healthcare system. A proper evaluation should include: assessment of advantages, disadvantages, costs (transaction and incremental costs), investment schedules, fluency and quality of communication, needs of and access to different services, changes in work process, and the division of work evoked by the new “instrument.” Since telemedicine can also influence the conventional decision making of clinicians, the legal and ethical consequences of telemedicine and eHealth should also be assessed.

Efficient, effective and reliable systems for remote consultations and distance education are the top requirements for eHealth. However, solutions have so far proved elusive and the deployment of ICT in many health sectors has required major transformational changes. One of the major problems for a full potential delivery of telemedicine is to provide the tools for the world-wide access. Thus, it is necessary to make radical improvements in service productivity, access to medical services, and improved quality of diagnostic with acceptable levels of patient safety. A well developed ICT could serve to breakdown many of the existing barriers to the access of eHealth in the world.

The term “Cloud computing” was coined to denote a proposed distributed computing resources for advanced science and engineering. Considerable progress has since been made on the construction of such an infrastructure. The modern technological developments revealed, that cloud computing refers to an on-demand, self-service Internet infrastructure that enables the user to access computing resources anytime from anywhere. It is a new model of delivering computing resources, not a new technology. Cloud computing provides three new advantages: massive computing resources available on demand, elimination of an up-front commitment by users, and payment for use on a short-term basis as needed. From a service point of view, cloud computing includes 3 archetypal models: software, platform, and infrastructure.

  • (1)

    Software as a Service (SaaS): The applications (e.g., Electronic health records) are hosted by a cloud service provider and made available to customers over a network, typically the internet.

  • (2)

    Platform as a Service (PaaS): The development tools (e.g., operation systems) are hosted in the cloud and accessed through a browser. With Paas, developers can build web applications without installing any tools on their computer, and then deploy those applications without any specialized administrative skills.

  • (3)

    Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): The cloud user outsources the equipment used to support operations, including storage, hardware, servers, and networking components. The provider owns the equipment and is responsible for housing, running, and maintaining it. The user typically pays on a per-use basis.

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