4 Benefits of Being in the Cloud in Healthcare
February 19, 2019
The cloud is steadily transforming the healthcare industry. According to the latest HIMSS Analytics brief on the cloud, 65 percent of healthcare organizations use cloud or cloud services, and of those, 88 percent are using cloud for Software as a Service (SaaS).
Healthcare has been more cautious about the cloud than industries that quickly adopted, such as finance and insurance. Understandably, as healthcare organizations’ top priority is safeguarding patient data, and they must be focused on security and compliance with HIPAA and other privacy regulations. Given this security-focused approach, many hospital administrators have voiced reluctance and indicated a lack of trust in cloud providers’ ability to secure their data.
However, as security capabilities for cloud solutions have matured, healthcare adoption is picking up steam. More organizations are migrating systems, services, and applications to the cloud. In a Spok focus group of CHIME CIOs at HIMSS18, every participant said they were supporting either a cloud-only or hybrid environment. Another factor driving cloud adoption is the headway healthcare software vendors are making to migrate software architecture of the 2000s to cloud-native platforms. Vendors are realizing that healthcare organizations are not always well-suited for cloud implementation given the unique requirements of healthcare applications—a one-size-fits-all model doesn’t work.
Healthcare organizations are gearing up for cloud adoption—according to Black Book Research, 93 percent of hospital CIOs say they’re actively implementing or managing cloud infrastructure. There are many benefits of moving healthcare technology to the cloud, and in fact, Spok recently announced a first-of-its kind cloud-native clinical communication platform. Let’s explore the four pros of making the shift.
1. Provide better security:
When so many healthcare technology systems are on premise today, it’s understandable that hospital leaders may feel like they’re giving up some control by moving systems to the cloud. However, control doesn’t equal security. While there may not be the tangible presence of servers and other hardware you can manage on-site, moving to the cloud is actually a step up for security. Cloud-based solutions are able to use enhanced layers of security and monitoring that otherwise would not be available or feasible for on-premise solutions Many Fortune 500 companies already rely on Amazon Web Services (AWS) to act as an important layer in their efforts to secure data, which is why Spok partnered with AWS. This arrangement combines Spok’s commitment to security (including FDA, JITC, and SOC 2 Type II certifications and HIPAA business associate agreements) with AWS’ global secure infrastructure (including sophisticated network firewalls, full encryption, and penetration testing) that is supported by full-time resources at a much lower cost than an on-premise environment, reducing the overall total cost of ownership.
2. Decrease IT resources for operational support:
As the security section implies, migrating to the cloud effectively lessens the burden on your in-house IT teams. Any infrastructure work for security would be redundant, so the cloud avoids heavy capital expenditure and frees up your staff to work closer to their core competencies and dedicate resources to innovation rather than maintenance. McKinsey & Company estimates that organizations can reduce IT overhead costs by 30 to 40 percent by utilizing the cloud, in addition to the flexibility of scaling IT processes up and down as needed to optimize IT asset usage.
3. Improve interoperability and offer a better experience for staff:
In a cloud environment, staff can access data more quickly. Cloud systems have greater uptime and reliability, and also don’t require staff to open the network up and VPN in to gain access to the data they need. Care team members (clinical and nonclinical) can easily and securely access the data they need to do their jobs from wherever they are. Remote access—no matter the device—combined with web-based standards for sharing information securely results in more seamless exchange of data to support interoperability. It also reduces friction and staff frustration. The most common systems that have moved to the cloud, according to our HIMSS18 focus group, are HR, scheduling, and communication systems, as well as business applications like Office 365. “Everything except the phone system (PBX), will be in the cloud within three years,” predicted one CIO.
4. Support quicker and more informed patient care decisions:
We all know seconds matter in healthcare, and the cloud supports global access to data needed to facilitate care delivery and near perfect uptime (AWS has committed to a monthly uptime percentage of at least 99.99% in their service level agreement). By empowering clinicians to access the data they need, when they need it, you’re supporting quicker, more informed decisions for patient care. Dr. Chris Snyder, Chief Quality Officer at Peninsula Regional Medical Center, offers an example of the powerful potential of the cloud in healthcare. “The mobile and cloud approach is the future, and patient care is one of those times where you need that instant communication capability,” he said. “I can’t carry around an X-ray machine, but I’m able to view images on my phone, which is a great example of how, at any point in time, we can rapidly make improvements in care.”
I hope exploring these four benefits has given you greater confidence as you migrate your hospital’s IT systems to the cloud. Where is your hospital at in its cloud evolution? I’d love to hear from you!
By Bridget Wahlstrom, Director, Product Management
Bridget is an experienced product management executive with expertise in product and project management. She has over 15 years of product/project management experience in state-of-the-art, quality-driven environments. She has spearheaded the overall product development function, and redefined and realigned its role as a strategic business partner. Bridget resides in Minnesota and enjoys spending time with her daughters, running, and biking. Connect with Bridget on LinkedIn.