Amazon's much-touted server service called EC2 provide storage space for many business and personal websites, including well known names like Foursquare, Quora, Hootsuite, and Reddit. Last week, Amazon's EC2 servers went down and many websites, including those above, were rendered unusable for as long as two days.
Many in the consumer technology as well as the health IT space have predicted that "cloud computing" (where information is stored and accessed from online servers) is the future. In addition to services named above, other prominent cloud products include Facebook, Gmail, Google Docs, and Mint.
I use Quora and Hootsuite everyday. While it was annoying to not being able to explore questions on Quora or send scheduled tweets on Hootsuite, the server outage did not affect my job or my academics, things that matter. The Amazon server issue has caused an uproar in the social media consumer community, but I believe the problem will pass.
However, if cloud computing were to be the future of health IT, what would happen when a server went down and EMRs cannot access medical information? All medical data would be inaccessible. Can hospitals afford to lose data access for all of its patients for anymore than 48 hours? Or six hours? Or even...one minute?
To learn about EMRs, my ONC-sponsored health IT course is using PracticeFusion, a 100% online cloud EMR. It'll be interesting to see if they come up with any solutions to problems like Amazon's.