Healthcare Providers Take a Shot in the Cloud

TGSyringe-and-clouds-200x200Like businesses in a host of industries, healthcare providers have set their sights on cloud computing, hoping to gain competitive advantages and better serve doctors and patients by moving important data and operations to cloud-based systems.

In fact, the healthcare cloud computing market is expected to grow to nearly $5.4 billion by 2017, according to a recent study by the firm MarketsandMarkets. This growth in healthcare cloud is part of a larger trend in telehealth, which is predicted to grow by 55 percent this year.

So, what are the particular benefits that providers are counting on by transitioning to the cloud? Some of the big ones are scalability, mobility, cost reduction, and connectivity. With cloud, healthcare providers can easily scale their solutions to manage changing patient data; remotely access medical records; ensure accuracy of payments and reimbursements; and keep physicians connected with patients and colleagues. And these are just a few examples.

For healthcare providers that haven’t made the transition to cloud yet, or for those who are in the process, we’d like to share a few factors to consider to get the most out of the move to the cloud.

1. Applications. For many healthcare organizations, a good first step is to move the nonessential Web-based applications to the cloud. This allows IT directors and application developers to have a flexible approach for scaling an application based on compute consumption and storage resources without having to have too much concern for data classification.

2. Security and HIPAA compliance. Among healthcare providers, the cloud isn’t just a way to get ahead. It’s a federal requirement, as the industry must begin migrating patient records and other data to cloud computing by 2015, or face penalties. Thankfully, many cloud providers have started offering solutions that specifically comply with HIPAA requirements. And for even more security, healthcare organizations should stress the importance of data regulation on mobile devices and make sure security policies are in place to guide users on protecting regulated data. This is the recommendation of a recent Ponemon Institute study that found safety concerns about cloud-based storage and mobile applications in clinical settings.

3. Vendor selection. Healthcare organizations must juggle a variety of legal requirements with professional and patient needs, all while providing the best and most innovative service. When it comes to the cloud, a solution that fits an organization’s specific needs is important. Some cloud provider features to consider are: geographical capabilities, network carrier options, power, resiliency, security, core capabilities with infrastructure specialization, strong service level agreements, and professional services capabilities.

Has your healthcare organization begun moving operations and data to the cloud? What have you learned so far during this important transition? What factors are holding you back?

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