Here are the first steps to becoming a cloud-first hospital

Like so many IT projects, it starts with culture, according to David Chou, CIO of Children’s Mercy.
By Tom Sullivan
09:30 AM
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cloud-first hospital

Children’s Mercy Hospital Kansas City CIO David Chou speaking at the Healthcare IT News Pop Health Forum in Boston.

There’s little doubt that many hospitals are going to start moving more and more of their technological infrastructure and software into the cloud.

As that happens, consultancies such as IDC are predicting the cloud model will effectively change the way IT shops typically operate. Instead of performing many of the tasks historically considered to be information technology, for instance, hospital tech departments will become more akin to lines of business that acquire those functions, IDC’s projection suggests.

But how can hospitals considering tapping into more cloud services or even embarking on a cloud-first mindset begin?

“It starts with setting the culture,” said David Chou, CIO and Chief Data Officer at Children’s Mercy, in Kansas City, Missouri. “Most IT departments are not thinking cloud-first.”  

Children’s Mercy, though, has been working to become a cloud-first hospital since the spring of 2016.

The system has more than 600 apps in its portfolio and almost all of them are in the cloud. Children’s Mercy has already moved its EHR to a hosted model, put its enterprise resource planning on Amazon’s cloud, moved enterprise messaging to Microsoft’s Azure and Office 365, subscribed to security tools in the cloud and more, according to David Chou, CIO and Chief Data Officer at Children’s Mercy, in Kansas City, Missouri.

Chou recommended that hospitals considering a similar tack achieve that culture setting by first evaluating your current culture and outline what is required to transform into a cloud-first operation.

Next, draft a vision that answers why and what becoming cloud-first will do in a way that executives and other non-technical employees, including clinicians, can understand easily enough.

When that is ready, then it’s time to communicate the benefits such cloud technologies will deliver, the upsides to adopting them instead of the on-premise editions staff are already comfortable using.  

Don’t forget the IT team, either. Moving software products and services — not to mention job functions — into the cloud will change their lives. That means hospitals need to look at what skills are currently available in-house and which ones will have to be acquired to succeed.

“Big picture for running a well-established department, in my opinion, is focusing on two things: Experience for patients and our clinicians,” Chou said.

Chou will be speaking about Children’s Mercy’s successes and lessons learned at the upcoming HIMSS and Healthcare IT News Cloud Computing Forum at HIMSS18 in Las Vegas at the Wynn Hotel on March 5. Register here

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Twitter: SullyHIT
Email the writer: tom.sullivan@himssmedia.com