Why Healthcare CIOs Are Embracing the Cloud

Top benefits of the hybrid cloud for healthcare organizations

Healthcare organizations have thrown off the bowlines and are taking to the cloud in record numbers. In fact, the healthcare industry is expected to be one of the driving forces behind data center cloud-based traffic increasing from 65 percent to nearly 85 percent by 2019. So, what was the holdup? For many, it was simply a fear of the unknown.

Rather than jumping in head first, many healthcare organizations are dipping their toe into the water through a hybrid cloud. The hybrid cloud allows them to move some applications into the cloud, while keeping others on-premise. “[The hybrid cloud] is not a private cloud, but it is a restricted cloud, and so that's what we use right now for a lot of our applications,” says Ed McCallister, Senior Vice President and CIO at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “It's a software-as-a-service type model, and the software is housed at the vendor side, and we're accessing it remotely."

Not only does the hybrid cloud allow healthcare organizations to digitize mountains of analog records, it offers six other big advantages.

1. Communication With Patients

Legacy systems networked to a physical server restrict access outside the network; in the cloud, both patients and physicians have access to records at any time, anywhere. A patient can log on to the system, view their history, and reach out directly to their doctor, who in turn can view the same reports and respond accordingly. As people become less inclined to pick up the phone and more likely to jump online, the cloud provides a perfect solution that boosts patient engagement and offers the personalized experience they want.

Access to records in the cloud also helps avoid duplicate paperwork to increase efficiency; both doctor and patient can share information with other providers, specialists, insurance companies, and pharmacies. In fact, digitization has become so prevalent that according to the University of South Florida, all healthcare providers are required to adopt some form of electronic medical recording (EMR) in order receive federal subsidies and avoid potential fines.

2. Collaboration with Physicians

The situation: a small- town doctor has a patient with symptoms he’s struggling to diagnose. In the past, access to other experts was limited. Through the cloud, he can now easily connect with another physician, regardless of geography. The cloud enables these small and rural practices to reach out to a greater network of support to better identify specific medical conditions.

3. Scalability for Growth

Healthcare providers are required by law to maintain patient records a full ten years after their last visit (and childrens records until they reach the age of 19). As a practice or network grows, so does the amount of patient data; while hardware infrastructure can stifle growth, cloud-based infrastructure grows with it.

4. Data Recovery

From the ransomware attack that put the city of Atlanta on lockdown for nearly two weeks, to the more recent Delta, Sears, and Best Buy data breaches, in 2018 it seems no one is safe. Loss of data through cyber attacks, human error, system failure, or Mother Nature herself can be devastating for patients and providers. With cloud computing and Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS), data recovery time can be at, or near, zero; plus, with a provider's continuous backups, organizations can easily revert back to the last “clean” snapshot of patient data.

5. Research Opportunities

A connected cloud gives providers the ability to compare data, make predictions, and prepare for outbreaks (consider the advantages of data sharing and preparation around flu season). Advanced research benefits can also help in the treatment of disease, the development of new pharmaceuticals, and more. 

6. Compliance

Regulations are constantly changing, and organizations are continuously playing catch up—at a cost. A 2017 Thomson Reuters survey reveals that 60% of organizations expect to have to pay for more skilled compliance staff in the coming year, and nearly 50% expect liability of compliance professionals to increase. With a reputable cloud provider, compliance is taken care of; the national standards of HIPAA/HITECH are monitored and adjusted as needed, giving healthcare providers peace of mind.

Making the Move

Healthcare providers embracing the virtual private cloud and the hybrid cloud are reaping the rewards, and putting a smile on patients’ faces. “People are embracing the cloud in healthcare," McCallister confirms. “Now is the time [for cloud computing] ... I've been in healthcare pretty much my entire career, and this is absolutely the most transformative time." 

There are a number of questions all healthcare organizations need to ask themselves before making a move to the cloud; but in the end, adoption will not be an option, but rather a necessity in order to remain competitive in our digital world. Ready to make the move, or learn more about cloud computing options? Speak with an IT expert at DSM, Florida’s preferred cloud provider, today.

New Call-to-action

Related posts