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Hospitals turn to the cloud to modernize multiple IT systems

When it comes to cloud-based EHRs, say experts, providers should get vendor references from other healthcare organizations as well as a clear description of how the platform is set up and with what other systems it will interface.

Jeff Rowe | May 04, 2018 12:00 am

Is the cloud a potential shortcut for hospitals to take when they want to modernize their IT systems?

That’s one way of summing up a recent article at HealthcareDive by writer Meg Bryant, in which she interviewed health IT professionals about how hospital executives are opting to modernize their IT infrastructures, EHRs and data analytics capabilities to support value-based care by putting them in the cloud.

As she sums up the thinking, “cloud platforms allow providers to leverage patient information gathered at multiple care points. Providers are already using them 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.”

Another advantage is that the cloud enables organizations to get by with smaller IT and security staffs. For a smaller organization, “there is the ability to see data from different locations without having to set up extensive networks and network security protocols,” said Kathy Downing, vice president of information governance, informatics and standards at AHIMA.

As for the thinking around EHRs, Bob Krohn, partner and healthcare practice lead at ISG, a global research and advisory firm, explained that having a cloud-based EHR “allows providers to rapidly provision and build out infrastructure without large capital expenditures.”

Not surprisingly, however, some health IT professionals view the cloud through somewhat less rose colored glasses.

For example, David Chou, chief information and digital officer at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, recognizes 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.”

But, still, there’s no denying the potential.

Said AHIMA’s Kathy Downing, for example, “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.”