Top 3 trends reshaping the cloud in healthcare IT

With the cloud, healthcare IT services are becoming more cost effective
By Sherwood Chapman
01:17 PM

2015 is all about cloud platforms for healthcare IT, which means the New Year will bring dramatic changes to the cloud landscape. Three factors that are reshaping the cloud moving into 2015 are cost, customization, and collaboration.

1) Cost. Cost is a significant consideration when talking about cloud technology because most healthcare IT systems are expensive. The software is costly and the number of servers that providers need to purchase gets prohibitively expensive. Moving into the cloud means moving into a completely foreign pricing model for most healthcare IT firms, with a fully virtualized cloud environment that does not require space or additional servers, which can help eliminate costs. 

Multi-tenancy is also a way to control cost in the cloud. With multi-tenancy, healthcare IT firms can create a single instance of a database server to serve all of their clients /tenants. The application has to be architected to be secure within a multi-tenant environment, but as the healthcare IT firm crafts its applications to be a multi-tenant application, they can share more pieces of the infrastructure puzzle.

With a legacy/turn-key application, healthcare IT firms might have been able to share the database but couldn’t share the application servers or the front-end user experience.  As they morph their application to be truly multi-tenant, now they can share the database servers and the application servers, and potentially the user experience.  

2) Customization. Customizations are different in the cloud. In the traditional IT environment, healthcare IT firms would branch off of a client's environment and modify their UI (User Interface) to get their own special installation. Healthcare IT firms don't want to do this in the cloud because they want to be able to share these instances between multiple tenants. So now, software has to get more intelligent with data-driven configurations versus having a different binary for Tenant A versus Tenant B.

The customizations are modeled in the configuration database, so when Tenant A comes in, the healthcare IT firm retrieves the configuration from their database and it says Tenant A gets this color-scheme, Tenant A can see these fields, but Tenant B has a personalized, tweaked customization experience.  

Legitimately, everything has been moving that way even within in-house turn-key solutions because it is a challenge from a development standpoint to manage 20 branches of code that are all customized. With the cloud, data-driven configurations are modeled within the database.

3) Collaboration. These days, it seems everything is going to cloud and healthcare IT is no exception to this trend. 

Nowadays, healthcare IT firms, like Invidasys, are enabling the collaboration layer within their software, with the Lync component. Healthcare IT firms can integrate the entire user account experience within their application so that applications such as Word for Office 365 are supported directly in the application.

For instance, a user can pull up a Word online document, have real-time collaboration on a web page, and pull in additional CSRs, or customer support reps, that are looking at particular data on the screen for an online chat. With the cloud, these kinds of integrations for the user’s benefit occur seamlessly and can be updated at any time because they are always available in the cloud. 

In conclusion, 2015 is going to be a big year for the cloud and healthcare IT firms, especially with factors like cost, customization and collaboration. With the cloud, healthcare IT services are becoming more cost effective for the industry, because there is less need for in-office space for servers, costly software upgrades or hardware replacements etc.

The cloud is still as customizable as traditional hardware because features are written into the code during development to allow for a streamlined, configurable user experience. Now that all software is available online, it is easy to collaborate with others and for systems to collaborate with each other. There is no need for sharing versions of work or communicating on separate platforms because having everything accessible in the cloud, all the time, allows for anytime access for anyone on the team.

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