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Hospitals tap cloud flexibility to improve value-based care

Hospitals planning a move to the cloud should conduct due diligence before choosing a vendor to ensure they have experience in the healthcare space, experts say, and even then the move to the cloud isn't without some growing pains.

Jeff Rowe | Mar 05, 2018 12:00 am

Cloud platforms allow providers to leverage patient information gathered at multiple care points, and an increasing number of hospitals are putting that capacity to good use.

In a recent review at HealthcareDive, writer Meg Bryant spoke to a number of health IT stakeholders who explained how hospital executives are “looking to the cloud to modernize their IT infrastructures, EHRs and data analytics capabilities to support value-based care.”

For example, Bob Krohn, partner and healthcare practice lead at ISG, a global research and advisory firm, noted how having a cloud-based EHR “allows providers to rapidly provision and build out infrastructure without large capital expenditures.”

Moreover, as Bryant observed, providers are using cloud platforms “for telemedicine, patient engagement and population health purposes, and they’re increasingly seen as being just as, if not more, secure than traditional on-premise networks and data banks.”

Still, not everyone is not ready to jump completely to the cloud.

David Chou, chief information and digital officer at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, for example, notes that the cloud “is cheaper for some, but you can get to scale points where it’s not cheaper. If you’re a really large organization, it may not be cheaper from a pricing perspective to have your infrastructure in a public cloud versus on premise.”

As for what infrastructure health IT managers are choosing for access to the cloud, ISG’s Krohn says “the predominant trend in cloud computing is infrastructure as a service, where organizations purchase a vendor’s IT infrastructure as a service on a component basis. Another option is software-as-a-service (SaaS), where organizations license EHR software and cloud platforms. A third option, platform-as-a-service, provides both software and business outcomes but has yet to gain traction in the hospital space.” 

Yet another attribute hospitals are increasingly attracted to is the backup and redundancy that are built into the cloud, making it easier to recover data in the event of a natural disaster or cyberattack.

As Kathy Downing, vice president of information governance, informatics and standards at AHIMA, put it, “if a hospital experiences a ransomware attack, having the backup in the cloud under someone else’s security can allow them to bring their systems back faster because they’re backed up in an area the hacker can’t get to.”