From HIE to HR, cloud finding favor

Business associate agreements, security concerns prove problematic for providers
By Mike Miliard
11:05 AM

Eighty percent of respondents to the inaugural 2014 HIMSS Analytics Cloud Survey say they currently use cloud-based IT services. Still qualms about performance and privacy persist.

Lower maintenance costs, faster deployment and the ability to step in when staffing resources are scarce are the cloud's top three selling points, according to the poll, which finds that of the organizations currently making use of the cloud, nearly all of them plan to expand their use.

[See also: New HIPAA rule could change BAA talks]

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Half of the cloud adopters are hosting clinical applications in the cloud, primarily using software-as-a-service tools, according to HIMSS Analytics. Typical cloud services include health information exchange, the hosting human resources applications and backup and disaster recovery.

"Cloud services have been long praised as a tool to reduce operating expenses for healthcare organizations," said Lorren Pettit, vice president of market research for HIMSS Analytics, in a press statement. "The data presented in our inaugural survey demonstrates the healthcare industry's eagerness to leverage this resource."

[See also: Dropbox in healthcare: A love-hate thing]

The top concerns for healthcare organizations seeking cloud services are the cloud services provider's willingness to enter into a business associate agreement as well as physical and technical security, according to the report.

And even after a cloud company has been chosen, and the cloud services have been embraced by end users, there are still challenges, according to HIMSS Analytics. Two-thirds of healthcare organizations report having had challenges, such as a lack of visibility into ongoing operations, customer service, as well as costs and fees.

Half of the respondents also complained about performance issues, such as slow responsiveness of hosted applications; most, however, were willing to work with their existing cloud service provider to resolve their issues, rather than switch to a new one, according to the survey.

Still, 6 percent of respondents were resistant to adopting cloud services. Of these, nearly half cited security concerns as the primary barrier to their willingness to adopt cloud services.

"Many Healthcare CIOs and others have expressed their intention to use cloud services," said Lisa Gallagher, vice president of technology solutions for HIMSS, in a press statement. "However, there are some challenges related to use in healthcare and these are what we hoped to uncover. Our next step is for the healthcare industry to work with cloud service providers to move forward together in addressing these challenges."

Access the report here.


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