Hospitals are moving to the cloud, but worries remain
- Despite growing interest in cloud storage and applications, many healthcare organizations are holding back due to concerns about compliance, security and privacy, according to a new Datica survey of hospital CIOs.
- In all, 17.7% of respondents said their organizations have more than half of their existing software infrastructure remotely hosted or in the cloud and 15% said a quarter to half of their infrastructure is cloud-based.
- Nearly a third (32%) called cloud hosting for existing applications a top five priority while 60% ranked it as a top 10 priority.
Hospitals are also using the cloud to launch new applications. Of CIOs who took the survey, 45% said their organizations are creating applications in the cloud to advance population health and 32% reported developing cloud-based applications for machine learning.
Also, 34% of respondents said their organizations use the cloud to create applications or manage personal health information. Of those, nearly two-thirds (64%) anticipate launching two to five internally developed, cloud-based applications within two years. The chief focus of these efforts is data analytics (70%), followed by population health (47%), community care (38%), clinical specialties (36%) and machine learning (33%).
Yet while hospitals place a high priority on cloud hosting, 69% of respondents said their organizations do not have a strategy in place for moving their data centers to the cloud, the survey shows.
Respondents also worry about security and privacy in the cloud, particularly around PHI. More than half (53%) of respondents reported concerns with compliance, security and privacy of vendors hosted in the cloud, versus 44% who said they are comfortable assessing vendors’ compliance.
“These survey findings mirror what we’ve been hearing in high-level conversations at Datica,” Travis Good, Datica’s CEO and chief privacy officer, said in a statement. “Although cloud hosting for healthcare has become mainstream, the understanding of and confidence in the cloud to meet the exacting standards of the highly regulated industry is still a major concern for healthcare systems.”
The global healthcare cloud computing market is expected to hit $35 billion by 2022, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 11.6%, according to BCC Research. Driving growth is increased demand for anytime/anywhere access to patient data, images, reports and other healthcare information. Leading the charge are the U.S. and Canada, whose healthcare policies promote reduced costs and outpatient care, the group says.
Most cloud computing currently is infrastructure as a service, where organizations license a vendor’s IT infrastructure on a component basis. But other options exist, including software as a service and platform as a service. Whichever mode hospitals use, the cloud offers a number of benefits, from built-in backup and redundancy to scalability and being able to get by with a smaller IT staff.
“If you’ve got an application that’s growing exponentially like EHRs tend to do, if you want to increase the scale and increase your capacity … it’s a lot easier to do in a cloud-based environment” than in a traditional data setting, Bob Krohn, partner and healthcare practice lead at ISG, told Healthcare Dive earlier this year.