Healthcare taps cloud in record numbers

Some 96 percent of healthcare organizations on board
By Erin McCann
11:13 AM
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Don't dismiss the healthcare industry as one of the last to innovate quite yet. When it comes to adopting cloud technology, it is actually ahead of the game, according to a new report. 
In fact, according to the Dell-conducted survey, which took the pulse of technology adoption levels across multiple industries, the lion's share of mid-sized healthcare organizations – some 96 percent of them – are using or seriously considering using the cloud. 
What's more, despite many industries citing serious security concerns over how data is held in the cloud, the majority of healthcare leaders – some 64 percent to be exact – utilizing private cloud technology say they are "very confident" the data is adequately protected. This compared to 52 percent of survey respondents across all industries who point to security as the biggest barrier to moving forward with cloud computing
In terms of priorities for the healthcare industry, there are three top of mind, Dell officials outlined. The first pertained to making information technology more cost efficient. Upgrading outdated infrastructure and further optimizing data centers were also cited as serious priorities.
In terms of where healthcare organizations find the real value in the cloud, the answers prove diverse. Nearly 50 percent of respondents in a HIMSS Analytics report earlier this year said their organization gets their value from "augmentation of technology capabilities or capacity." Also top of the list were financial metrics – at 46 percent – and the time to deploy the solution, at 45 percent. A significant portion of industry professionals also pointed to greater workforce productivity after cloud technology was implemented.  
For David Tomlinson, chief information officer and CFO at the Illinois-based Centegra Health System, it just made sense to make the move from an in-house storage solution to an outsourced cloud platform. 
"We gain control over storage costs and avoid future data migrations by centralizing our data in the cloud with the Dell Unified Clinical Archive," he said in a Dec. 16 statement. "Our first concern with using the cloud was security, and our second was about backups. How would we access information if our connections went down?" But once he and his team worked through the security piece of this, that's when they made the switch. 
Despite the overwhelming majority of healthcare organizations using or expressing interest in using cloud technology, the security concerns are very real, many officials point out. There are many industry professionals who don't yet sing the praises of the technology.
"Most cloud vendors have huge servers and are carving pieces up to give to customers," said Chris Logan, chief information security officer of Care New England. "The thing that scares me about that is, what if the controls aren’t in place and my data slips into somebody else's environment, or their data slips into my environment? What's the downstream issue there? What's the effect? It’s significant."
On top of the security issues, the cloud can also cost providers a pretty penny. In the HIMSS Analytics cloud report, nearly 20 percent of healthcare organizations cited costs and fees associated with the cloud as one of the biggest challenges with their cloud providers. 
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