Julie Kirst, Editor

Lately I’ve been receiving more releases about cloud computing and health care. Cloud computing is big business, and although there are a number of detailed definitions for it, basically the term “cloud” represents another word for the Internet. According to Wikipedia, it is “Internet-based computing, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices on-demand, like the electricity grid.”

How does that relate to health care? For example, I recently received a release from DR Systems about its new e-Mix product—which stands for electronic medical information exchange. A low-cost, cloud-computing service, eMix enables images and reports to be securely pushed to institutions, patients, physicians, and EMRs via the Internet. DR Systems’ release says, “This interoperable, vender-neutral technology eliminates the need for the provider facility to burn CDs, print films, or fax reports.” In addition, the company says this will help facilitate the trend toward a universal electronic medical record, or EMR—a growing area of involvement for clinical/biomedical departments, which we address in this issue’s Service Solutions.

With these technological enhancements to medical devices come data protection and privacy concerns. To address these issues, officials of various governmental and private organizations are bringing together industry experts to shed light on privacy challenges such as cloud computing.

On June 9, Canada held a 3-day Information Access and Protection of Privacy conference to specifically address the rights of Canadians. This year’s national conference, with the theme “Changes/Challenges/Choices,” featured national and international speakers and addressed various privacy topics, including privacy issues faced during a national health emergency, and cloud computing and its impact on the security of health information.

At the upcoming Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) annual conference and expo in Tampa, Fla, the symposium will also tackle these security issues under the “The Big Picture” category with a session titled, “Medical Devices in a Changing World of Cyber Threats and Cyber Crime.” Presented by Axel Wirth of Symantec Corp, the session will explain why cyber crime is no longer just an issue for the IT department, but is also one for clinical/biomedical engineers. It will cover how cyber crime affects hospital IT systems; how hackers can use viruses to steal information, corrupt patient data, or crash a system; and what biomeds need to be aware of when managing the hospital’s medical equipment.

In addition to this session, the 3-day AAMI conference offers training under categories that include “Patient Safety,” the CE-IT challenge, “Imaging,” “Operations and Technical Support,” and “Business and Management.” A CBET review course and a career center further add to the conference’s value.

In the exhibit hall, an abundance of companies—including 24×7 at booth 320—will present their latest products and demonstrate how the new technologies can enhance your world.

During a new series of roundtables moderated by conference speakers and other experts, AAMI also introduces a new feature that enables attendees to expand on some of the session’s topics through discussions.

Whether you are able to attend AAMI, or whether you read about the EMR in this issue, we hope you’ll take away new information that will help you produce positive changes in your ever-evolving workplace.

Julie Kirst