Survey: Healthcare Moving to the Cloud for Patient Engagement, Analytics

Dec. 2, 2016
A survey from HIMSS Analytics and Level 3 indicates that healthcare organizations are ready to embrace cloud technologies, citing cost savings and the more scalable platform as key motivating factors.

A survey from HIMSS Analytics and Level 3 indicates that healthcare organizations are ready to embrace cloud technologies, citing cost savings and the more scalable platform as key motivating factors.

Many healthcare providers already are using the cloud for numerous functions, or have plans to move to the cloud, according to the HIMSS Analytics 2016 Cloud Survey, which polled 105 healthcare provider organization IT and leadership professionals. Thirty-four percent of healthcare provider organizations are currently using the cloud for health information exchange, and 41 percent have plans to use the cloud for this function. Additionally, 35 percent are using the cloud and 38 percent have plans to use the cloud for patient engagement and patient empowerment tools.

The survey results indicate that healthcare provider organizations are increasingly willing to trust cloud technologies with protected health information (PHI). Healthcare provider leaders are testing cloud platforms with back office applications first, with 18 percent currently using the cloud, and survey respondents indicated they have plans to leverage cloud solutions to manage analytics and PACS storage.

Currently, of the healthcare organizations surveyed, 13 percent are using the cloud for business continuity and disaster recovery functions, 6 percent are using it for leveraging cloud for compute cycles to analyze big data and 10 percent are using the cloud for PACS storage. However, close to 50 percent of the surveyed healthcare organizations reported that they have plans to move to the cloud for these functions.

The survey also finds that healthcare leaders’ perception of the cloud has evolved in just the past few years. Only 22 percent of survey respondents were planning to use the cloud for back office functions in 2014, compared to 46.7 percent in 2016 and, similarly, 20 percent were planning to use the cloud for HIE in 2014, compared to 41 percent in 2016.

“In 2014, the cloud was primarily seen as a model that could support HIE and data storage, whereas in 2016, it is being leveraged for a full range of functions including patient empowerment. And, there’s more to come, as the cloud is poised to play a prominent role when healthcare organizations deploy telemedicine, mobile health applications and remote monitoring tools – trends that are inevitable as organizations implement value-based care programs in alliance with the Affordable Care Act,” the report authors wrote.

The survey report also drills down into what is behind the move to the cloud and healthcare provider organizations cited a variety of advantages to using the cloud. Healthcare IT and executive leaders cited cost savings, more robust disaster recovery, more scalable platform for internal requirements and speed of deployment as key motivating factors.

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