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Healthcare Cloud Computing Seeing Constant Overall Growth

Healthcare cloud computing is growing in HIT infrastructure for data storage, analytics, and application development.

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- Healthcare cloud computing is growing consistently, with IT infrastructure products for public and private cloud deployments growing by 9 percent, according to a recent report by IDC.

Cloud is proving vital to enterprises across all verticals as organizations continue to seek more advanced IT infrastructures to meet data storage and transfer demands.

Healthcare cloud computing is becoming a necessary part of health IT infrastructure with EHR and digital environments growing.  Connected and Internet of Things (IoT) devices demand scalable and flexible storage options for clinical data so it can be accessed short term, or stored long term.

Many healthcare organizations choose to store their data using hybrid solutions consisting of both on-premise and cloud storage. Healthcare organizations are hesitant to store their data entirely in the cloud because of the control IT administrators have over on-premise servers.

Forward Health Group CTO Jeff Thomas told HITInfrastructure.com that there is a comfort level for organizations in knowing that their data is in their data center.

“They can walk up and touch it, and sometimes it's that emotional comfort factor that has some healthcare organizations leaning toward keeping data in house,” Thomas noted.

However, cloud storage options have become more popular over the past several years as the general distrust of healthcare cloud computing has worn off. Organizations are willing to give up total control of some data in exchange for scalable solutions and convenient access to data.

HIMSS noted in its Analytics 2016 Cloud Survey released late last year that the strategic benefits of healthcare cloud computing outweigh previous security reservations. HIMSS analysts predicted that cloud will become a mission-critical tool for all healthcare IT infrastructure incentives.

The use of cloud computing in the healthcare setting has tripled since 2014 due to the different ways organizations are leveraging the technology, according to the survey. In 2014, cloud was seen primarily as a way to support HIE and store data. Comparatively in 2016, organizations are implementing the cloud for application development, patient engagement, and more.

Many healthcare analytics tools are now deployed in the cloud so organizations don’t have to invest in on-premise computing power for analytics.

A recent Gartner report highlighted cloud BI as one of the critical capabilities organizations need to look for in a BI analytics platform.

Similar to many other IT infrastructure solutions, Gartner saw a trend with BI solutions and the cloud. Deploying a BI solution in the cloud has the potential to reduce cost and speed up deployment times. The report also found that many organizations hare still hesitant to fully adopt a cloud BI solution.

When Gartner surveyed BI customers last year, 46 percent said that they have or were planning to deploy their BI and analytics platform in the cloud. This year, 51 percent said that they have or are planning to deploy their solution in the cloud. While the increase was relatively small, the trend is expected to continue through 2020.

Another significant part of healthcare cloud computing is applications and custom applications. Healthcare organizations are utilizing more mobile technology, which requires secure applications to access EHRs and other clinical data.

Currently organizations are working to find cost effective ways to develop clinician and patient apps. A Red Hat survey found that despite IT infrastructure budget restrictions, organizations are increasing app development budgets.

Not only are organizations building new apps, but the apps designed for desktops need to be redesigned for mobile devices so clinicians can easily navigate them and spend more time treating the patient.

The healthcare cloud computing market has spread over many aspects of health IT infrastructure for the past several years as organizations are looking to consolidate systems. Cloud storage and tools give entities the ability to be flexible and future-proof for advanced healthcare technology.