The Healthcare industry, struggling to cut costs while maintaining the quality of care acknowledges Cloud Computing as the answer to a much-needed transformation. However, data security concerns in information sharing have created challenges surrounding industry-wide dynamics. The Cloud will eventually take over future Healthcare Information Technology, provided organizations achieve Agility.

Why Healthcare Organizations are Driven to Transition into Cloud Computing ?

Healthcare organizations still use digitized information that is not portable and not shareable. This makes collaboration and coordinated care difficult to achieve. With the healthcare reform mandate pressing on the refurbishment of the Health Information Technology architecture, major healthcare players are motivated to pursue open standards in information sharing and portability. The constant need to meet razor thin thresholds pertaining to cost structure has driven most healthcare organizations to take advantage of the cloud. Besides, the nature and abundance of patient data surge exponentially. The healthcare industry needs on-demand services to manage terabytes of data at high speed, high efficiency, and a fraction of the original cost.

Healthcare Cloud Computing

However, the fragmented nature of the healthcare industry, compliance to regulations and concerns about the privacy and security of shared data has created impediments in Cloud adoption for Accountable Care organizations. The overall sentiment is positive as per results noted by the HIMSS Analytics survey 2014 regarding the future of Cloud Computing in the Healthcare arena.

Data and Statistics Have a Story to Tell About Cloud Adoption in Healthcare

The HIMSS Analytics survey unraveled interesting insights for the 83% companies “in the Cloud”:

  • Approximately 45% healthcare organizations, who embraced diverse cloud architectures, felt that they achieved greater technological capabilities, more favorable financial metrics and quicker deployment.
  • Clinical Applications, Health Information Exchange and Disaster Recovery commonly deployed on the SaaS model (major 67%) or IaaS model were most popular.
  • Two main reasons preventing healthcare organizations from embracing the Cloud were security concerns and downtime or responsiveness issues

What Exactly Does it Take for an Organization to Gain Sweeping Successes in the Cloud ?

The healthcare industry presents some of the most complex dynamics and highly diverse players, struggling to achieve ambitious goals in spite of constrained resources. Obviously, the challenges are overwhelming:

  1. Regulation – Organizations involved in healthcare delivery today are expected to comply with several stringent regulations including the HITECH Act for “meaningful use”, ICD-10 disease classification mandates and the directives of the HIPAA Act.
  2. Care Outcomes – Healthcare providers are constantly pushed to achieve higher and higher standards of care and improve the outcomes, present measures of success and lower costs. An aging population presents further challenges to achieve these standards.
  3. Data Security and Privacy – Patient Health Information (PHI) is constantly at the risk of being compromised in the backdrop of digital crime, and security is a primary concern.

Organizations aspiring to survive challenges and emerge successfully must condition their business model to suit market dynamics. McKinsey and Company identify these “Agile” organizations based on the ‘Quality of Healthcare’ delivered, ‘Cost Reduction’ achieved, and ‘Responsiveness to Risks and Reputation’ threats.

Healthcare organizations have to eventually embrace Agility in their business model. Fragmented as the healthcare value chain may be, organizations must position their technology capability for seamless access to the Cloud towards competitive advantage and market share retention.

Organizations that restructure and transform their entities for improving on their Cost, Quality, and Access to care will be able to set up a truly collaborative environment between healthcare providers, insurance payers, customers and the research community.

Does the Healthcare Industry Reflect the Latest Trends in Cloud Computing ?

Healthcare organizations, relying on analytics insights, have taken advantage of cloud computing on several fronts:

  • Cloud computing has enabled healthcare organizations to expand access to care at unimaginably low costs, high speed, and efficiency.
  • Customer care services have embraced the power of the cloud, enabling organizations to become more personalized and allow much higher customer engagement.
  • Security in the cloud has undergone iterations of rethinking and redesign, winning greater trust from organizations who are now willing to commit towards patient data sharing and portability.

However, although Private and Hybrid computing is commonplace, PaaS for healthcare is still in its infancy. Further, Identity Management and Protection might not be an agenda in the near future.

The current scenario suggests that cloud services delivery will definitely improve and organizational adoption of the cloud will rise in future. The single most pressing factor is pressure from HIPAA, which demands greater control over healthcare data and the way it is stored, shared and transported within the Cloud. Healthcare service providers will be motivated towards transitioning into a “lean” operational model in order to comply with the tenets of “meaningful use” and establish Quality standards more naturally in the coming years.