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December 13, 2017
The role of the hospital CIO is changing. That’s in part due to the move toward value-based reimbursement models. Hospital and health system CIOs must now look for data-driven solutions that many believe incorporate cloud service providers. Big data requires big solutions, and cloud service providers offer a vast, secure, and low-cost architecture that will enable hospitals to drive volume by enforcing value.
This post explores how hospitals can leverage the benefits of the cloud. How can the cloud benefit even a compliance-heavy field like healthcare? What trends are causing hospitals to adopt hybrid cloud models?
Benefit #1 — Big Data Means Big Storage
Big data is having a clear impact on the bottom line of hospital facilities around the nation. First, capturing and measuring data is a crucial part of patient safety and care. Second, reimbursement is intrinsically tied to data, especially related to quality and value metrics under rules such as MACRA. Last but certainly not least is the healthcare imperative to improve efficiencies and cut costs. While technology is perhaps the circulatory system of healthcare, it’s the data that actually forms the backbone of the organism.
Healthcare IT News predicts that connected devices and the Internet of Things (IoT) will actually force the remaining healthcare holdouts to shift to cloud computing models. We’re just tapping the surface of the data that’s soon to be available. From wearable and implantable connected devices to ingestible digital pills to track patient compliance, the IoT will clearly be the next disruptor.
CIOReview perhaps says it best, “The cloud is the most imperative and influential trend impacting most of the industries.” Cloud data storage is clearly one of the biggest benefits for hospitals and health systems struggling to cut costs while optimizing the data they’ve captured. The cloud is virtually limitless, while on-premise data storage is certainly not. This leads us to the second benefit of cloud service providers for hospitals: Cost savings.
Benefit #2 – Cost Savings
Hospitals seeking to migrate all or a part of their data storage or other services to cloud models can save big bucks over both the short- and long-term. This was pointed out as far back as 2012 when NPR did a segment highlighting some of the early adopters of cloud models and the cost savings they accrued.
These cost savings can arrive in several forms. If the provider has adopted any of the “as-a-service” models, including EMR and practice management platforms such as athenahealth. Bottom line savings include a corresponding reduction in hardware and staffing that accompanies cloud service providers, no matter what the industry. The cloud is typically better able to handle service spikes that require upfront expenditures of equipment, then relegate the servers to a back server rack, if admissions decline. Deployment and interoperability are simpler, as well.
As healthcare infrastructures age, a natural deployment to cloud service models will reduce the costs of server replacement.
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Benefit #3 – Security
HealthcareDive made the bold prediction this year that in the next decade, the on-premise server architecture found in most hospitals will reside instead in the cloud. Cloud service is HIPAA- and IDC-certified, and with the volume of on-premise data breaches that have occurred this year, the new way of thinking is that cloud service providers actually offer a more secure option for hospitals seeking both economies of scale and security for their data.
IDC takes it a step further, predicting that more than 80% of all organizations globally will have committed at least some of their architecture to the cloud. It’s clear that underlying attitudes toward these models are shifting in favor toward cloud service providers. Hospitals have recognized that cloud models help them avoid the high penalties for HIPAA compliance. Too, there is the fact that the cybersecurity breaches this year have occurred in on-premise networks.
It’s for all of these reasons that hospitals will continue to migrate to cloud models as a secure, low cost and more robust data storage alternative.
Conclusions – Cloud Service Providers Offer Real Benefits for Hospitals
Healthcare has always moved slowly to adopt new models of care. Clinical testing takes time to quantify the benefits, and we understand that technology is viewed in a similar vein. However, after more than a decade of cloud computing, even Gartner calls these services mature, so hospitals CIOs have finally begun to accept their role in the digital transformation of their facilities. As the IT paradigm shifts in healthcare, cloud service providers stand prepared to handle the weight.
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