I believe that eventually most personal and business computing will move to the web and be accessed by a browser running on a PC or more simple personal device. The name currently in vogue for web-enabled computing is cloud computing, about which I have posted a number of previous notes. Mention has also been made in Lab Soft News about vertical cloud computing which means that this type of computer architecture is adopted by a vertical industry such as healthcare. Healthcare computing tends to run a decade or so behind computing in other business sectors so you won't hear many references to cloud computing in hospital corridors except perhaps for PACS storage (see: A Closer Look at the Vertical Cloud in Healthcare Computing).
A very interesting note was recently posted by Nicholas Carr on Rough Type about cloud computing (see: EMC's "very massive" storage cloud) speculating that EMC, a leading supplier of computer mass storage devices, may become a service provider of cloud storage. The following statement appears in his note: The clearest indication of what EMC has in mind came in a post by EMC blogger Chuck Hollis last month. Following this statement is what I consider one of the most lucid descriptions of cloud computing I have ever read:
Cloud storage is massive. Very massive. We're routinely encountering new requirements where terms like "gigabyte" and "terabyte" are not useful, the discussion starts at "many petabytes" and goes up from there.
We tend to think of all this stuff sitting in a data center somewhere, but for this model, it just doesn't work. Nobody can afford a single data center that's large enough to put all this stuff into (no, not even Google). More importantly, no one can afford the network pipes that'll be needed in a single place to feed everything into, or out of.
No, what you'll need is the ability to place these devices in locations around the world, and have them operate as a single entity: a single global name space, and - more importantly - the ability to ingest content from anywhere, and move content to popular places depending on traffic and interest ...
In prior notes, I have discussed the merger of pathology, radiology, and lab medicine into a new medical specialty of integrated diagnostics. Such an integrated medical discipline would be supported by an information system blended from our current LIS, RIS, and a PACS. I suggested that such a system could be referred to as a diagnostic information system (DIS) in a lecture that I recently delivered at the Molecular Summit in Philadelphia (see: Clinical, Financial, and Technological Forces For and Against Integration of In-Vivo and In-Vitro Diagnostics).
With the exception of PACS storage, the chances of hospital CIOs adopting cloud computing approach zero. They are too wedded to their EMR vendors who, in turn, struggle to provide basic functionality with their products, to scale-up their systems to contracted-for multihospital deployments, and to avoid prolonged system failures. I have made the arguments in previous notes (see references to the federated model) that clinical lab and pathology data is becoming too complex and voluminous to wedge into today's EMRs. This argument will become even more compelling when the complex molecular diagnostics data is merged with the voluminous medical imaging files in the form of a Diagnostic Information System. My conclusion is that cloud computing is already being deployed for PACS storage and will evolve even more quickly when integrated diagnostics become a reality.