A recent Markets and Markets research estimates that the global healthcare cloud computing market is set to exceed the $5 billion mark by 2017. With the launch of its own private healthcare cloud service, hCentive decided to wade deeper into the current Cloud adoption trends and tried to understand the reasons behind this industry wide reticence.

Current adoption of cloud technology in healthcare  

Last year, CDW, an American IT services provider, conducted a nationwide ‘Cloud Computing Tracking Poll’ survey of over 1,200 IT managers. As of May last year, 30% of surveyed healthcare organizations were using cloud computing, but most of the cloud-based applications (39%) were office productivity tools. Public cloud based applications, such as Gmail, Salesforce, Live Meeting etc., were most commonly used by healthcare companies. Gartner in a May 2012 survey report reported that healthcare payers & providers were primarily utilizing cloud technology for processes such as claims processing, medical records, care management etc. Let’s have a look at the various cloud models popular across the industry:

Cloud service models can be broadly categorized into Public, Private, Community and Hybrid cloud, and are available under three deployment models:

Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) – This model allows businesses to source computer hardware, such as servers, storage space, network bandwidth etc. from cloud provider organizations that own, run & maintain such equipment. Primary benefits include easy availability, cost efficiency to name a few.

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) – Through this model, a cloud vendor can host applications for its customers. As the applications are hosted on a remote computer, businesses are freed from the application management burdens. This model simplifies administration for businesses & improves end-consumers’ secure accessibility to hosted applications.

Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) – This service model provides users a cloud-based platform to develop, deploy, test & host applications through IaaS or SaaS. Users can collaboratively write code, execute it in the Cloud and avail other benefits.

Optimizing healthcare implementation through cloud

Despite a slow rate of adoption, companies are slowly adopting the cloud computing trend. Some salient benefits of moving to the cloud are:

Improved business agility: Business agility refers to the ability of a business to quickly and cost-effectively adapt itself to changing market & operational needs. The 2012 Future of Cloud Computing Survey, ranked business agility as the second primary key driver behind increased cloud adoption.

Reduced infrastructure costs: Unlimited access to hardware & software through the cloud helps in reducing both installation & maintenance costs. 88% of the healthcare companies currently implementing cloud solutions noticed a 20% savings in application costs, reported CDW.

Rapid scalability: The added flexibility to rapidly scale their applications through the pay-as-you-go cost model helps in optimized utilization of resources in fluctuating insurance markets.

Enhanced security & compliance: Businesses can make their cloud solutions – server, network, applications, and data – secure and compliant at all levels. Improved measures, such as regular monitoring of cloud applications and platforms ensure that network vulnerabilities are quickly identified and rectified.

Improved access & productivity: Cloud users enjoy unlimited, device-independent, anytime anywhere access to the data in the cloud. Easy accessibility to a common data center can facilitate increased collaborations among health intermediaries.

Although the cloud technology adoption has been particularly inhibited across the healthcare industry, with escalating healthcare cost concerns getting pushed under the federal spotlight, this trend is set to change soon as has been suggested by some healthcare experts.

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