Why A Cloudy Forecast Is Good For Healthcare - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

09:05 AM
Bill Crounse
Bill Crounse

Why A Cloudy Forecast Is Good For Healthcare

Cloud services are forcing a reassessment of conservative habits.

Yes, the cloud is great, but health organizations will be slow to adopt it -- that’s what I told my colleagues when we first started talking about cloud services. Thirty-five years in the healthcare industry has taught me that it’s typically quite conservative when it comes to new technology.

I’m pleased to say I was wrong. I’m seeing health organizations move to the cloud much faster than I expected.

Why? In today’s quest for higher quality, better access, and lower costs, health systems need to examine every possible way to achieve greater efficiency. The cloud has matured at just the right time in history to help them do this. And I’m seeing even more widespread adoption now that there are cloud solutions available that address the security and compliance requirements that health organizations must adhere to. For example, Microsoft offers a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Business Associate Agreement (BAA) for its cloud services.

Doing new with less
Let’s face it. The business of healthcare is caring for patients -- not running datacenters. Driven by the economic realities of health reform, organizations want to get out from under the burden of what I call “commodity workflows” in healthcare IT. By that, I mean things like email, storage, telephony, and messaging, which is why these have been some of the first functions that health organizations have moved to the cloud.

By offloading at least some of their IT infrastructure, health organizations are reducing IT real estate and capital expenditures. And just as important, the automatic maintenance that cloud services provide, free up IT staff to focus more on initiatives that directly affect a health organization’s core competency: patient care.

These were some of the benefits that Giulio Siccardi, the CIO of Bambino Gesù Pediatric Hospital in Rome, told me his organization experienced after moving its email to the cloud. Not only are clinicians much happier with the cloud-based email and collaboration tools that they can access anywhere, anytime, than they had been with the previous, less user-friendly on-premises solution, the hospital was able to significantly reduce IT costs and maintenance. No longer encumbered with daily email upkeep, the IT department saved approximately 100 hours per month. What’s more, the new solution cost 60 percent less than the old one -- savings that the hospital planned to invest in research.

And I recently spoke with the CTO of a very large, multi-hospital system based in the Asia Pacific region, who told me that by moving all of his healthcare system’s operations to the cloud, he is saving more than 80 percent of what he’d been spending on maintaining on-premises IT services. Another example: Advocate Healthcare, the largest healthcare provider in Illinois, is realizing a cost avoidance of $4 million by moving its email services to the cloud.

With numbers like these, it’s no wonder that health organizations are moving to the cloud in droves. In today’s constrained economic environment, we often talk about doing more with less. But that can only get you so far. It’s about doing more with new, which is exactly what the cloud offers.

Connecting people and information
Another reason I’m seeing health organizations surge to the cloud is because it makes it easier to connect people and data across infrastructural boundaries and therefore the entire care continuum. This is more important than ever with the movement toward a patient-centered, accountable care model.

Boulder County, Colo., for example, is using a collaborative social services tool on a cloud-based platform to improve case management. The multiple divisions in the county government that provide programs are no longer data silos, but rather share participant data. As a result, they have reduced wait time for services from weeks to hours, increased program efficiency, and enhanced coordination across agencies.

It’s not just big health organizations and governments that are seeing impressive results with the cloud. Mihills Webb Medical, a five-physician family practice in Texas, has estimated that by using cloud-based communication and collaboration tools it has increased productivity so much that it’s saving the equivalent of 30 days of medical assistant time each month. Consequently, the team is able to see more patients, which has significantly increased the practice’s revenue.

I’m glad to join the ranks of weather forecasters in being wrong. The forecast for the healthcare industry is much “cloudier” than I first thought. But the reasons are clear. The cloud offers compelling and innovative ways for health organizations to continue to strive toward the triple aim of improving care quality, increasing access, and containing costs.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Susan Fourtané
Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
11/25/2013 | 3:00:53 AM
European hospitals lead in cloud adoption

"These were some of the benefits that Giulio Siccardi, the CIO of Bambino Gesù Pediatric Hospital in Rome, told me his organization experienced after moving its email to the cloud."

European hospitals have managed to move faster to the cloud. The HIMSS has even granted prizes to some of those hospitals who have achieved a high percentange of adoption moving their EMRs to the cloud.

User Rank: Apprentice
11/25/2013 | 1:08:53 AM
nice day
I bought this product for my 5 y/o son. He absolutely loves it! He wears the Jersey and Helmet everyday! The Jersey is light weight open mesh style, similar to a batting practice jersey. The helmet fit him (a little big) and ME! (I'm 5'10", 200 lbs.). The helmet is of coarse, not to be used in real games, but great to rough-house with your kid! I've already washed the Jersey many times, and it is holding up quite well, I must say! This item is at a perfect price point for a budget item purchase, so much so, that I also bought the Giants version as well! It comes packaged very well. This is an awesome product hands down!www.nhlcheapjerseys.ca
The State of Cloud Computing - Fall 2020
The State of Cloud Computing - Fall 2020
Download this report to compare how cloud usage and spending patterns have changed in 2020, and how respondents think they'll evolve over the next two years.
2021 Outlook: Tackling Cloud Transformation Choices
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  1/4/2021
Enterprise IT Leaders Face Two Paths to AI
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  12/23/2020
10 IT Trends to Watch for in 2021
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  12/22/2020
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you.
White Papers
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Sponsored Video
Flash Poll