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How Healthcare IT will Migrate to Cloud Services

According to the findings from a global market study, the healthcare sector has a highly complex IT environment that's supporting a very diversified professional user population (i.e., clinicians) -- along with their patients in life-critical situations. The industry is currently facing growing economic and regulatory pressures that make its IT infrastructure primed for change.

Therefore, all organizations will likely consider the potential benefits of migrating to cloud computing. Improvement in the quality of healthcare services is a key driver for managed cloud service adoption.

Billions of dollars of federal incentives are provided for the delivery of quality healthcare services, and expanding the use of electronic health record (EHRs) systems -- as well as providing the basis for the exchange of information and data across and between the providers. These EHR systems are expected to be used extensively by 2014.

Another significant opportunity is the consumer-oriented cloud application -- offering the potential of improving healthcare communications and enabling patients to manage their own medical records. The cloud platform fits well with new business models, which often require uninterrupted access from multiple providers to a single patient, such as a Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) model or Accountable Care Organization (ACO).

Cost Reduction Potential Across the Ecosystem

Reducing costs in the healthcare industry ecosystem is a key motivation for cloud service adoption. This is true for all healthcare organizations, irrespective of their size and area of specialization. In making future IT investment decisions, health organizations will likely measure the return on investment closely. For many new Health Information Exchange (HIE) models, the infrastructure is already in place.

In today’s healthcare system, access to good facilities often depends on the physical location. As more health data moves into the cloud and telehealth technologies become popular, everyone will be able to access health information in real-time from anywhere. The result will be better access to healthcare and relevant data, especially in the remote areas. However, risks around data privacy, security and safety, and state specific policy rules are among the top concerns raised for the adoption of cloud computing.

As a result, these issues currently are the greatest barriers for embracing cloud computing. However, according to the MarketsandMarkets assessment, the data security issue has the potential to increase cloud service adoption. By centralizing and standardizing handling of patient data across the healthcare ecosystem, the cloud could enable stronger security and authentication measures to be imposed by SaaS (software as a service) providers, thereby actually improving protection and integrity of data.

According to MarketsandMarkets latest research, globally 32 percent of healthcare facilities are already using some form of cloud application. Moreover, close to 75 percent of the organizations not using any cloud applications are already considering adopting them in the next three to five years.

In summary, the top priorities for the healthcare industry are:
  • Improvement in the quality of healthcare services.
  • Reduction of costs.
  • Increasing access to the healthcare systems.
  • Data privacy and security.