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Separating Myth From Reality in Healthcare Cloud Computing

17 Feb 2015 by Christine Kern

Wading through the misconceptions can help healthcare organizations find their way to the cloud.

A number of common misconceptions still surround cloud computing for healthcare, despite its recent rise in popularity.

According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), cloud computing is defined as “a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.”

Myth #1: Public cloud services save money. According to a white paper from HP, not every organization has the same cloud needs, and private or hybrid cloud models might actually prove more cost effective than migration to the public cloud. That means that cloud strategy is essential to any migration process.

Myth #2: Critical applications have no place in the cloud. Cloud applications have advanced and can now offer the capability to run major, business-critical applications from the cloud efficiently, safely and securely, meeting the criteria of their fields.

Myth #3: Security standards are all created equally. Many executives believe that private clouds offer better security than public ones, but that is not necessarily the case. However, security concerns such as the risk of unauthorized access or loss of sensitive information can be addressed by the right combination of cloud provider security capabilities, and third-party security products and services.

Myth #4: Cloud computing is one-size-fits-all. A wide range of cloud options is available—public, private and hybrid—and can be tailored to your organization’s requirements.

Myth #5: Everyone is moving to the cloud. This isn’t quite true – yet. A recent white paper by the Institute for Health Technology Transformation (iHT2) reveals sluggish cloud adoption is the result of lingering data-security concerns. Despite the many benefits of cloud computing, it seems healthcare organizations have been slow to make the transition.

While these myths have been keeping healthcare organizations from jumping on the cloud bandwagon, it is clear that the tide is changing.

Findings from a report from the Institute for Health Technology Transformation “indicate that the most important concerns that healthcare organizations have about the cloud are related to security and control of data, regulatory compliance, availability, bandwidth and cost,” according to authors. “Nevertheless, it is clear that these concerns are gradually diminishing as providers begin to see the many benefits of going to the cloud.”

The report, “Answers to HealthCare Leaders’ Cloud Questions,” recognizes that healthcare has been a relatively slow cloud adopter. The 2014 HIMSS Analytics Cloud Survey demonstrated that healthcare providers’ cloud usage is accelerating, with 83 percent of those surveyed now reporting that they were using the cloud in some way. The top three reasons for cloud adoption, according to the study, were cost (56 percent), speed of deployment (53 percent) and lack of internal staff/expertise (52 percent.)

Ultimately, despite the lingering concerns and misconceptions, “Cloud is really the future of healthcare,” said Andrew Crouch, Regional President of North America and APAC for Level 3. “Despite a relatively low adoption rate, Level 3 anticipates that in 2014 as more organizations become educated about secure cloud options, more healthcare providers will turn to the cloud to leverage a scalable, efficient and secure way to access and store data and health information technology (HIT) applications.”