The Word at HIMSS: Healthcare Organizations Making Progress toward the Cloud

February 27, 2019 David Williams

 

Cloud-based healthcare is a reality, and it's growing quickly.
The cloud was a popular topic at HIMSS again this year. Cloud computing, long a staple in many industries, has faced a slower uptake in U.S. healthcare for several reasons, including the fragmentation of health information systems and concerns over data security and cybersecurity. At least until very recently, the transition to the cloud has been happening slowly. However, several leading organizations are moving very quickly in that direction – giving them a significant advantage in the marketplace and necessitating others to do likewise.

Datica's 2018 CIO Cloud Perspective Survey titled Healthcare Cloud Take-off: Waiting for the Fog to Clear reflected these challenges but also confirmed the emergence of cloud as a priority. About 55% of survey respondents reported that they do not host their primary electronic health record (EHR) system outside of their data center; about 35% said they are using the HER vendor’s hosted offering and about 10% are using a third-party hosting solution. And even though new tools and changes in the regulatory environment have made cloud a safe option for storing sensitive information, including Protected Health Information (PHI), the survey found that the majority of survey respondents do not have a strategy for moving their data centers to the cloud. Despite all the concerns, about 80% of the survey respondents said that cloud hosting is in the top 20 priorities within their organizations.

Recent technology innovations are addressing those barriers and concerns, and an increasing number of healthcare organizations are broadening and deepening their use of cloud technology. We heard a lot about that progress throughout the discussions at HIMSS19 — and the research backs it up. According to a recent HIMSS Analytics survey, 83% of healthcare organizations are already using some form of cloud technology.

Making the shift - strategically
Moving to the cloud can be driven by many reasons - desire to cut data center costs, deploy new applications quickly, and access flexible and scalable resources. A healthcare organization’s decision to implement cloud-based solutions requires a careful assessment of all the systems already in place, as well as which systems to lift and shift, which to retool, and which to abandon in favor of born-in-the-cloud solutions. In addition, tough decisions have to be made about which kind of cloud solutions will best serve the organization’s needs: public (including multi-cloud), private, or hybrid. Answering those questions is the key to creating a more coherent digital ecosystem in which information can flow freely among all stakeholders.

What does the cloud mean for patient care?
The cloud holds great promise for connecting today’s fractured healthcare system. Even within organizations, interoperability across diverse systems, including legacy systems, is a significant challenge. As systems and organizations are able to share data, healthcare leaders and clinical teams will be able to access a spectrum of relevant data and use it to optimally support patients, achieve better outcomes, and operate much more cost effectively.

Cloud computing is also going to be a core component of what we call “data humanization” — the ability to use data to make healthcare choices and decisions more proactive. In our recently released Executive Brief: The Emerging Landscape of Data in Healthcare, we discuss healthcare organizations’ growing need to be able to connect patients’ identities across the continuum of healthcare. For example, a person may go to one health system on a particular day to see a specialist in a clinic; then later go to an urgent care clinic for prompt care; and then to the emergency department at another time following a car accident, which may lead to surgery. Across all these needs and stops along the healthcare delivery continuum, everyone — the clinicians, the employer, the health plan — needs to be connected into the data.

All this is being driven by the unrelenting push toward real-time availability of data, and toward access at every point in the continuum of care and in operations. The technologies that are helping this include cloud computing platforms, mobile applications and other solutions.

The end goal is to leverage the power of the cloud to make significant improvements in processes and care. As healthcare platforms utilize advanced cloud-based technologies like machine learning and AI, we can look forward to more patient-centric, outcome-based, personalized healthcare.

At Conduent, we partner with healthcare organizations to help them transform their operations and better serve their constituents.  To explore our cloud based solutions, please visit us online at https://www.conduent.com/healthcare-provider-solutions/ or contact us at healthcare@conduent.com.

 

 

About the Author

David is the Vice President & General Manager of Conduent Healthcare Provider Solutions.

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