Cloud power

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Articles - May 2014
Monday, April 28, 2014

Starting in the early 2000s, companies including then-Eugene-based GarageGames began offering game engines for a monthly fee, giving independent developers access to tools that previously cost millions of dollars to license or develop on their own. That plug-and-play business model is creating efficiencies offline as well — for companies across industry sectors.

Cloud BD2F8130 
 Damon Slye, co-founder of Mad Otter Games in Eugene

Not far from Mad Otter, for example, the Eugene office of 4medica offers cloud-based services that weave together the often mismatched recordkeeping systems that medical providers access when treating patients. ”In the late ’90s, I realized that a huge problem with the whole paper chase that we were doing was the laboratory results,” says Oleg Bess, 4medica’s CEO and a practicing obstetrician and gynecologist based in Los Angeles. “Everybody in the office was always looking for that piece of paper, that test ... so when the opportunity presented itself, we started a company that created this connectivity from a lab to a physician.”

Today 4medica generates about $10 million in revenue working with about 40,000 doctors, primarily helping them view and order tests from laboratories. Moving those files to 4medica’s cloud simplifies the IT on both ends and makes the test results accessible from anywhere a doctor can log in.

The company, which sells other services within the market for electronic health records, will reach $22.3 billion worldwide by the close of 2015, according to an Accenture report cited by Health Data Management magazine. In the U.S., much of that growth will be fueled by federal healthcare reforms that envision the digitization of medical records as a key way to drive down healthcare costs. That might sound straightforward, but in practice, healthcare facilities in the U.S. lack even a standardized identification number to keep track of individual patients as they visit different providers. Creating and sharing records across computer systems that weren’t designed to work together can raise a huge challenge for smaller clinics.

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 Mat Ellis, founder and CEO of Cloudability

“The cloud is really an enabling technology,” says John Schmidt, 4medica’s director of interoperability, who previously helped run the Eugene office’s predecessor company, Intechgra Database Solutions. “It levels the playing field between some of the smaller practices and some of these huge, hospital-owned networks.”

In Oregon about a dozen of 4medica’s 50 employees engineer complex interfaces that connect doctors’ offices to facilities like radiology centers or a national prescription database called Surescripts. Additionally, the company and others like it employ teams of specialists to maintain their remote databases 24-seven, with a level of redundancy and security that Schmidt says would be cost prohibitive for individual clinics. “It’s hard for a practice to have that skill set onboard.”

As more databases and software find their way into the cloud, a cluster of Oregon companies has emerged to help businesses make the most of the technology. “We really are at the stage where, I think, if someone has a really great idea and can execute on it pretty well, we can see people producing tools like Instagram and WhatsApp on public cloud infrastructure with relatively minimal capital investment,” says Puppet Labs chief information officer Nigel Kersten. These massively popular products seem to appear out of nowhere, he says, because cloud services are “essentially accelerating the rate of technological change and democratizing access to computing resources.”



 

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