Over 80 percent of healthcare organizations are currently using cloud services, mostly in SaaS form, according to a recent report by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS). Hosting of clinical applications and data, health information exchange and backups were the most used cloud services for healthcare organizations.
The 2014 HIMSS Analytics Cloud Survey documents the use and concerns of healthcare organizations use of cloud services. It also explores the value of these services to the organization and the likelihood they will use cloud more in the future.
CIOs and IT directors accounted for the majority of the 150 survey respondents. Although the study comes out of a small sample size, providers should note these concerns as the results are similar to the much larger cloud adoption study by Skyhigh. Security was cited as the top issue in both studies. This concern is certainly valid since healthcare is more vulnerable to security breaches than other companies.
A recent MarketsandMarkets report predicts that the healthcare cloud computing market will rise at a CAGR of 29.8 percent to $6.5 billion by 2018. Recognizing the needs and concerns of this market could provide a new source of revenue for cloud providers.
Most healthcare organizations already using cloud services plan to do so in the future. Three quarters of the respondents use private or hybrid clouds. Possible areas of expansion are archival data, backup and additional hosting of operational data.
Of the groups not currently using cloud, 66 percent planned to do so in the future. Only four percent of them planned to add cloud in the next year, and under 20 percent were in negotiations with cloud providers. Cloud security was the top reason these organizations have not yet adopted cloud. This could be an area of opportunity for providers if the concerns around cloud security were fully addressed.
The top things healthcare organizations consider when looking for a cloud provider are security and the willingness to enter into a Business Associate Agreement (BAA, a requirement of the US HIPAA Act). Nearly 60 percent of respondents cited these two concerns as the most important. More than half thought years in business and customer service were important factors to consider.
Clearly there are advantages to cloud adoption. Over 60 percent of organizations experienced greater capacity and technological capability. Financial metrics, streamlining of the business process, improved security and productivity were all a result of cloud adoption.
Better regulatory compliance was only experienced by a quarter of the healthcare organizations surveyed. This may be another area in which service providers could help their customers. Companies like Logicworks are already taking advantage of this by focusing on security and regulatory compliance.