The Healthcare Cloud: Tactful, Strategic Deployment for Full Value Realization

Updated on October 26, 2023
Cloud Computing and HIPAA

Over the past several years, we have seen increased adoption of the public cloud across a multitude of industries – including healthcare. The demand for simpler storage, combined with an unprecedented explosion of data quantity, has created the perception of an unstoppable drive toward the public cloud. 

While the cloud is not new to healthcare IT, a “cloud-first” strategy is a popular buzzword among executive leadership. While it’s promoted as a highway to simpler and more cost-effective IT delivery, cloud operating and computing is rapidly becoming more complex. And, like every hot technology or software that people run to, organizations need to be wary of the potential disappointments and lost value that can result from unintentional adoption and use of the cloud – especially with a lack of skillful deployment. 

Instead, organizations need to look toward a holistic deployment strategy that uses a hybrid approach to cloud processing and modernizes data infrastructure to see the full benefits of cloud processing in healthcare.

Rushing to the Cloud

A recent report done by Skyhigh Security on cloud adoption within healthcare found that roughly 25% of healthcare organizations are adopting and embracing cloud-based services. While this number is significantly smaller than that of other industries, healthcare adoption of emerging technology and software usually lags due to the innate high risks associated with the healthcare industry and its patient data. Healthcare generally stores the least amount of sensitive data in the cloud due to the valuable nature of patient data, especially seeing as we’re in a period of increased cybercriminals and cyberattacks. However, adoption and implementation of the cloud within healthcare has still grown significantly in recent years and is projected to continue growing, which requires organizations to learn from early adopters to avoid common pitfalls of rushing toward the cloud.

Just last year, an article in Forbes projected the market for cloud services in healthcare to top $79 billion in the next five years. With an increased amount of cloud usage due to applications and services like Google, Amazon Web Services, and Microsoft Azure, organizations across industries seem to be rushing toward cloud adoption without validating if this operating model will serve to solve the business or clinical problem they are intending to solve. These moves toward a completely polarized model that hosts all operational function and important data in the cloud has seen early adopters pull back as they realize this model might not optimally meet their business needs and does not solve issues they were looking to fix. A significant move of this nature can also be expensive to the organization – with regard to both money and time. People may become disillusioned with IT’s ability to deliver real value in a timely manner due to unskillful deployment plans and tactics. Because of these factors, there will no doubt be big disappointments like we’ve seen anytime organizations adopt technology without being crystal clear on the intended outcomes.  

As we learn from these early adopters, we can begin to change our approach to cloud technology and shift toward tactful and holistic deployment to ensure organizations across industries are reaping the full benefits of new and emerging technologies, especially those in healthcare, where patient lives can be changed forever. 

Taking Time to Deploy a Hybrid Cloud Ecosystem with Modernized Infrastructure 

As healthcare IT operating models continue to evolve to include cloud computing and we start incorporating lessons learned from early adopters, we will start to see more organizations look toward a hybrid cloud computing environment and modernized infrastructure to fully push organizations into the digitized era. The first question organizations need to ask themselves before deployment is, “what are we are trying to achieve? What is the objective of the move and what impact do we want to make?” A hybrid cloud computing environment within healthcare can be optimized to solve specific problems, but organizations need to know what those problems are. 

Organizations then need to understand the cost implications of these tools and their alternatives to understand what model or offering works best. When you take a strategic approach to deploying a hybrid cloud computing environment, you enable your organization with the opportunity to save money and achieve the intended outcome. Because the move to the public cloud prompted many early adopters to push their data in that direction, now they are faced with monetary loss when trying to optimize their services post-deployment as new systems become outdated. In five years, healthcare organizations will have the necessary direct experience with the public cloud to understand the relative strengths and weakness to intelligently optimize their IT infrastructure portfolio.  That direct experience may be having to pay to repatriate workloads from the cloud back to the data center.

Most legacy applications aren’t cloud-native, which means the current data infrastructure will be relatively inefficient to run applications in the cloud. This can end up costing the organization a significant amount of money in the long run to host applications in the public cloud. Healthcare needs to be strategic and tactful with this technology to avoid disappointment. Value is added when the approach is personalized and holistic. Healthcare lags in technology adoption – we don’t want to lag in making mistakes and fixing them as well.  We need to learn from the other industries and take a more careful approach to amplify business value and help improve outcomes overall.

Jon Kimerle
Jon Kimerle
Epic Alliance Manager at Pure Storage

Jon Kimerle serves as the Epic Alliance Manager at Pure Storage.