Chrome OS Electronic Medical Record Anyone?

The tech world is buzzing about Google’s new Operating System (OS) called Chrome. You can read the full writeup from Google’s Chrome OS announcement on Techcrunch or the official announcement on the Official Google blog. Basically, Google has created an operating system for a netbook (or at least netbook like) computer that will be super fast. The reason it can work so fast is that it will basically only run web applications. Yes, this is hard to wrap your head around, but it is really interesting.

Let’s apply the Chrome OS to EMR and healthcare. Imagine you have an EMR software that’s completely web based (yes, there are a number of them already). Then, the Chrome OS would be perfect for that EMR. I should also mention that the Chrome OS computer is likely to be in the $300-$500 range. That’s a lot of savings.

Now let’s talk about speed. I’ve been using the Chrome web browser for months now and it’s just flat out faster than any other browser out there. In fact, every once in a while I open another browser and have to avoid slitting my throat as I wait for it to load. I expect the Chrome OS will be just as fast. Yes, every doctors office likes speed. Can the EMR integrate with Chrome at a level that they optimize the speed of the EMR? They could. Will be interesting to see if anyone will.

How about security? Well, there’s nothing being stored on the Chrome OS laptop. Yes, that means all of the data from this new laptop is being stored on the server. Even the data that’s temporarily stored on the laptop is encrypted. Now imagine you lose a laptop (nah, that’s never happened in healthcare, right?). Good news is that there’s no patient data on the laptop since it’s all stored in the cloud.

Of course, one downside with the Chrome OS is that you’re dependent on your internet connection to do much of anything. However, with an EMR that’s generally true anyway. So, I don’t see much difference there.

One challenge I do see is the document management piece of an EMR. Document management is file intensive and needs a real OS. I don’t see much getting around this. I don’t see Google adding in support for things like high end scanners (or even low end ones for that matter). However, you just purchase one or two computers for your office that can handle the scanning. Problem solved.

No doubt the Chrome OS isn’t the end all be all to computers. It likely won’t even takeover a HUGE percentage of market share. However, it is a really interesting development that could be interesting applied to an EMR and healthcare.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference,, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.


  • Good analysis. I think the chrome OS on a netbook is going to be very popular. They are only planning to support solid state drives and they’ve reduced the boot time so these machines will be “instant on” and will run a long time on batteries.

    You’re right about the document management part. Google believes that they have the answer to that as well though – Google Docs. But it’s going to take a long time before a solution like Google Docs is really viable for the average office that needs to manage a wide variety of document types that come from various sources.

  • Some EMR runs under Adobe Flash/Air so extra computing power would be helpful. Fortunately, Intel is introducing new Atom processors early next year, at least one of them dual-core. How about a cheap knockoff of Intel’s rugged Mobile Clinical Assistant platform, with a touchscreen, no keyboard, and easily disinfectable?

    Also, Google hasn’t talked yet about Chrome OS nettops, but they aren’t much different from a hardware standpoint and would be affordable and secure thin clients for the desktop.

  • Russ,
    Even if they have Google Docs (which of course aren’t HIPAA compliant), I’m not sure that Google will ever provider the scanner driver support on their OS to make a doctors office document management system feasible. Especially those that do heavy document management.

  • I have installed Chrome OS on one of my netbooks and the performance of Chrome OS is just okay. there is nothing fancy or very special about it. It was just a sort of GUI version of linux or something.

  • I think you’re right Techo Girl. At least at this point. However, the quick startup is awesome. Plus, I’ve read that they’re working on a way to login to the computer using the web. An interesting concept that really does start moving everything to the cloud. Starts to reach the point that it truly doesn’t matter which machine you use since everything is stored in the cloud.

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