As cloud computing becomes more of a viable option for health care professionals, there are some dissenting voices in the crowd. The questions surrounding privacy and compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 remain top concerns for migration to the cloud. However, adoption continues to tick upward. A recent study published by MarketsandMarkets found that the market for North American health care and life sciences cloud computing would be worth $11.43 billion by 2020.
“The biggest challenge (for health care IT) was to upgrade aging systems.”
So why the hesitance to adopt the cloud? According to eWeek, medical organization CIOs gathered at the Constellation Research Connection Enterprise conference to discuss the emergence of the cloud as a viable option for IT infrastructure among the health care industry. The biggest challenge, panelists agreed, was to upgrade aging systems so that they would be in line with the technological capabilities of their patients – creating a better connection between the care patients could get via telemedicine and the care they receive in the hospital itself.
However, concerns remain about security and privacy of the information transmitted via cloud infrastructure. In the wake of privacy regulations like HIPAA and data breaches against huge companies like Anthem, organizations are, understandably, focused on making sure their data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. A recent Ponemon Institute study found that 91 percent of health care organizations have experienced some form of data breach.
Bringing the clouds together
Interoperability of cloud environments is a common subject that health care CIOs tend to gravitate toward during conversations like this one, and some view this as another big issue within today’s medical industry. In treating patients who are seeing multiple specialists and health companies, it’s integral for these organizations to communicate effectively in order to make sure they’re providing the best care possible.
“We don’t have a clear standard for interoperability, and that’s where the disruption comes in,” said David Chou, digital health advisor and former CIO at Academic Medical Center. “It’s going to happen with the emergence of standards, but the health care vertical is really risk-averse.”
Future of cloud in health care
Despite this hesitance surrounding interoperability and the cloud, the clinical information system segment of the health care cloud computing market was projected by the MarketsandMarkets report to be the largest share and grow at the fastest rate from 2015 to 2020. This is a clear indication that systems need to become fully interoperable to accommodate for the new tools that these cloud-based information systems are bringing to the table.
HealthcareITNews’ Edmund Billings noted earlier in 2015 that the cloud is the disruptive technology that’s going to make it easier for care providers to become interoperable. When organizations utilize cloud infrastructure to communicate, they can “support multiple interoperations that accomplish more than just data sharing,” Billings wrote.
In order to achieve this goal of supporting the gamut of health care operations, not just data transmission, providers have to integrate services beyond these capabilities. The result of these kinds of efforts will be a more concerted effort for collaborative, effective care.