As more healthcare data – of both the clinical and non-clinical varieties – needs to be stored and shared across various settings and geographies, more providers are and will be turning to cloud computing to do the job.
Last year, CDW’s 2011 Cloud Computing Tracking Poll suggested that 30 percent of healthcare organizations were using cloud-based solutions. A KLAS Research report from January 2012 pegged that number even higher at 55 percent. And new market report from the research firm MarketsandMarkets estimates the cloud computing market in healthcare will grow more than 20 percent annually, reaching $5.4 billion in 2017.
As with other areas of information technology, the adoption of cloud computing in healthcare lags behind other industries including government, media and banking, likely due to specific requirements spelled out by HIPAA and Meaningful Use along with providers’ reluctance to trust a third party with patient information.
But the need to reduce costs, store data and share information has pushed hospitals and physician practices to adopt the use of the cloud in certain applications like radiology, electronic medical records and clinical workflow. Some within the industry have suggested that advances in genome sequencing will give way greater use of the cloud in areas of research, development and clinical trial management, making it an increasingly important element of R&D.
According to the M&M report, software-as-a-service providers rule the market, but it’s a fragmented one with no player occupying more than 5 percent. That includes some of the big tech players like Amazon, Dell and Microsoft, who have launched cloud-based services specifically for the healthcare industry.
Maybe a good portion of the growth in use of SaaS in healthcare can also be attributed to the onslaught of consumer-oriented cloud services and applications that are emerging to improve communication in healthcare and enable patients to manage their own health.
But there are still those who suggest that the challenges of securing patient information, inter-operating and maintaining data control (as spelled out in a whitepaper from Aspen Advisors) will limit the cloud’s usefulness in healthcare.
[Photo from WOLF]
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