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Healthcare Cloud Budgets Grow as HIT Infrastructure Need Rises

Healthcare cloud spending increases as organizations continue to digitize their HIT infrastructure

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- Organizations plan to increase healthcare cloud spending over the next several years as highly scalable health IT infrastructure continues to be in demand.

A recent survey conducted by Clutch polled nearly 300 IT professionals across all major industries that are currently using cloud computing.

The survey found that 67 percent of businesses plan to increase their cloud spending this year. However, the increased spending may not only be the result of expanding the entities’ cloud infrastructure. Survey authors noted that some increased spending may be the result of negligence regarding usage.

Some organizations may need to spend more money to fix current deployments, or to switch cloud service providers for one more suited to their cloud needs.

Nearly half (48 percent) of respondents said that they increased their cloud budgets between 11 and 30 percent, with 19 percent increasing from 31 to 50 percent. Twenty-three percent reported that they expect their cloud budgets to remain flat.

Eight percent reported a decrease in cloud spending while 2 percent were uncertain.

Increased cost was one of the biggest challenges reported by the majority of respondents. Even with increased budgets, cloud costs can be more expensive than initially thought.

“In some cases, the increased spending is perhaps not always intentional or wanted. The reality of cloud computing’s mechanisms means that businesses may end up paying more than they expected,” survey authors explained. “Cloud computing prices look cheap, sometimes advertised at just fractions of a cent per hour for a certain amount of storage. However, if usage surges, then those prices can jump up dramatically.”

Price fluctuations in cloud computing make it difficult to predict if organizations are not diligent about keeping track of how much cloud space they need.

“Cloud computing is a dual edged sword,” Stratalux CEO Jeremy Przygode said in response to the survey. “It’s great because you can quickly provision equipment or resources in the cloud by simply pushing a button. That's the agility. However, the other edge of that sword is, because it’s so easy, people tend to fire stuff up and forget about it.”

Healthcare organizations have historically been skeptical of the cloud because of the lack of control they have over their data. However, the survey found that 45 percent of respondents named security as the biggest benefit of the cloud, making it the top benefit.

Other cloud benefits include increased efficiency (41 percent), data space (40 percent), flexibility (33 percent), and scalability (28 percent).

“Early on, there was a lot of concern from people with respect to moving workloads to the cloud because of security reasons,” Przygode commented. “Only the most basic of security features were built into the cloud. It really didn’t have a lot of the feature sets and functionality that you can find today.”

The survey showed general favor for private cloud deployments over public and hybrid. Sixty-eight percent use private cloud deployments.

The survey also delved into the future of cloud computing by asking survey participants about artificial intelligence (AI) in the cloud. While the adoption rate of AI in the cloud is still low, it’s grown significantly from 2014 (3 percent) to now (18 percent).

Healthcare organizations have struggled over the past several years because of the general distrust of cloud. Healthcare organizations are now embracing the cloud as more and more vendors are willing to sign business associate agreements to protect patient data.

Cloud computing is now seen as a necessity in health IT infrastructure as organizations outgrow on-premises environment.

Healthcare cloud adoption is still steadily on the rise. While healthcare organizations can’t fully deploy their IT infrastructure in the cloud, the scalability and flexibility cuts back on costs and increases efficiency.