How health systems are making use of cloud's workforce advantages

Broader staff access to more applications, more computing power and greater mobility are just some of the cloud benefits healthcare providers are using to empower their workforce.
By Nathan Eddy
11:35 AM

With the right strategy upfront, the cloud can be a real game changer for workforce development healthcare providers – but it’s not a silver bullet.

Any successful strategy depends on constant communication with staff and amending the deployment of cloud-based solutions until they meet an organization’s requirements.

Improved staff access to a broader area of applications hosted in cloud ecosystems, more computing power and greater mobility represent just some of the options available to healthcare providers to empower their workforce by moving to the cloud.

Dr. Saif Abed, founding partner of health IT consulting firm AbedGraham, said the key to a successful transition to the cloud is in fact not to only think about retraining after the fact, but to involve staff in advance from near the time that the decision is taken to make the shift.

"Engage workforce leaders, assess and benchmark existing processes and consult with frontline staff," he said. "Only then can you then be confident that you will have developed the optimal processes for staff to engage with once you have gone live."

He noted workforce development can mean many things but often it’s about opportunity and flexibility.

"Moving to the cloud creates new opportunities for people in the workforce to explore new initiatives and innovations at their disposal which can ultimately benefit their organization," Dr. Abed explained. "Beyond that though, the cloud can unlock agility and mobility, giving staff more options in how conduct their activities which can lead to more efficient outcomes."

He said leaders must engage staff leadership from key groups at the planning stage and ideally, involve them in decision-making committees.

"That’s the only way to identify both expected and unexpected concerns and to get ahead of them," Dr. Abed explained. "Concerns about skill sets, retraining, outsourcing, security and more can all be addressed if positive, constructive communication is established early."

Training is key, says CIO

BJ Moore, executive vice president and chief information officer for Providence St. Joseph Health, one of the nation’s largest health systems, said it is critical to provide hands on training with staff before a cloud deployment.

He said this should be done with the help of a "highly qualified and seasoned" strategic partner during the initial deployments, then transitioning responsibilities from a partner to the team as they build confidence and competency.

"After getting over the resistance to moving to the cloud, the loss in a skill set built over decades, I find teams embracing the cloud, being reinvigorated to build and learn more marketable skills," Moore said. "Cloud provides the commodity components like storage and computing power, allowing the workforce to focus on more value-add components.

He named security, system and application architecture, business continuity and recovery and fault tolerance as areas where cloud computing could be of extensive use for providers.

"The provider workforce will shift extensively in the journey to the cloud, and there will need to be a surge in investment to retrain the workforce to build the new capabilities for a cloud environment," Moore said.

"This retraining and doubling down in investing in people, tools, and processes may be a once in a two-to-three decade event--equivalent to the last major wave in the 1990’s of moving to client/server."

 

Nathan Eddy is a healthcare and technology freelancer based in Berlin.
Email the writer: nathaneddy@gmail.com
Twitter: @dropdeaded209