The healthcare industry has been one of the slowest to warm up to the idea of cloud computing technologies. Regulatory, privacy and security concerns have greatly slowed adoption, pushing cloud providers to offer private solutions that meet the specific needs of healthcare providers. A July 2nd report by research firm Markets and Markets found that in 2011, only 4% of the healthcare industry used cloud computing - a number that it is expected to jump 20.5% a year, reaching $5.4 billion in annual cloud-related expenditures by 2017.
Management of healthcare data has specific requirements involving security, confidentiality, availability to authorized users, traceability of access, disaster recovery and data preservation. Private cloud providers, specializing in healthcare solutions, have accounted for these concerns and are offering solutions that cater to these specific needs, including HIPAA and Meaningful Use regulations.
While there have been concerns, the benefits of cloud solutions for healthcare organizations are clear. Private practices, health clinics and hospitals can gain increased speed and agility, elasticity and standardization of software applications and business processes. A cloud connection to an application can be established within minutes or hours, versus setting up an application on a traditional Wide Area Network (WAN) or Local Area Network (LAN) which can take weeks or even months.
Being connected in the cloud allows for connectivity and interoperability for all Electronic Health Record destinations, which can translate into faster time to HIPAA compliance at a fraction of the cost of traditional alternatives. Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of the cloud, with its utility priced infrastructure, is that it makes it possible for smaller healthcare organizations, to afford robust backup, disaster recovery and business continuity solutions. For organizations that currently have on-premise infrastructure, using the cloud for these purposes may be the first logical step in their cloud technology roadmap.
A Keystone Library Automation System (KLAS) survey indicates that 71% of healthcare providers - overall led by physician groups - are planning to implement cloud solutions in the near future. Should your healthcare organization be paying attention to the cloud? We think so. Cloud technologies offer outstanding value and opportunity for healthcare organizations to improve services to their patients, clinicians, employees and partners.
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