Should Healthcare Put Its Faith in the Cloud for Data?

December 30, 2013
Daniel Essin, MA, MD

With healthcare's ever-growing devotion to reliance on the cloud, it's time to rethink our faith and devotion.

The concept of relying on the "cloud" is hardly new. Over the years, many religions have believed that God or their gods inhabit heaven and that heaven is in the clouds. God provides "cloud services" as the upside, but divine clouds, and cloud computing services, sometimes deliver a measure of calamity and even retribution. The gods do not always take kindly to hubris (in Greek tragedy hubris is defined as excessive pride toward or defiance of the gods).

In the 21st century Apple, Amazon, Google, and Microsoft are the gods that inhabit the clouds. A recent headline in The Guardian proclaims: "Beyoncé's surprise iTunes album sells 829K copies in first three days."

These downloads, like every one of 25+ billion other downloads from iTunes, is an expression of faith. What Apple (in this case) is selling is not a physical copy of Beyoncé's new album that you can hold, caress, pass on to your kids or be buried with. Instead, what Apple, Amazon, and their ilk are "selling" is the right to access the material - but for how long? They say forever, but forever is a long time.

Companies come and go. Management changes. Changing economic circumstances or someone like Carl Icahn may decide that the idea of perpetual access is no longer to the stockholders' advantage. The terms of service and pricing change frequently and your acceptance of the new terms is only a mouse-click away at the bottom of some long-winded license agreement that you don't read because you want your music and you want it now.

It's quite possible that, at the moment, more people believe in Apple and Amazon than believe in God and their belief may be more fervent.

It's worth considering, especially at this time of year, if corporations are worthy of this kind of faith and devotion. Perhaps it would be better directed to something more enduring and more profound.

Happy Holidays.

Related Content:

Health IT | EHR Technology | Mobile