MedCity Influencers

Healthcare’s data-driven migration to hybrid cloud

Despite initial hesitation and concern surrounding such a large technological change, the healthcare sector is embracing hybrid cloud environments.

hand touching visual screen

Healthcare’s delayed hybrid cloud adoption is finally well underway, with the sector predicted to double from 19 to 37 percent hybrid cloud penetration by 2020. But for a successful industry breakthrough, leaders have much to consider.

Security, privacy and regulatory compliance are top priorities for healthcare professionals, and often the main points of consideration when adopting hybrid cloud strategies. But to improve interoperability, data access and the day-to-day work of nurses and medical professionals, it’s important that IT leaders and organizational stakeholders understand every facet of hybrid cloud adoption.

First, let’s define hyrbid cloud. It is is a cloud computing infrastructure that uses both on-premises, private cloud – managed by the user of the data — and third-party, public cloud services. The two separate platforms are connected to each other.

Healthcare Hybrid Cloud Adoption — Why Now?
Healthcare’s change of heart about hybrid cloud adoption is relatively recent. But it wasn’t an easy change, especially for an industry with a mindset of “if it works, don’t fix it.” Historically, the healthcare industry has relied largely on legacy infrastructure — which is both costly and cumbersome to maintain. However, healthcare’s dated systems are ready to move into the new era.

Legacy infrastructure cannot keep up with an industry that is experiencing an exponentially increasing volume of data. Healthcare organizations are amassing vast amounts of information on their servers, everything from patient admission and diagnoses to online interactions and discharges. These data needs will only continue to expand, requiring equally augmented security measures and flexibility to remain stable and secure. This makes now the perfect time for healthcare organizations to migrate to a hybrid cloud environment. Hybrid cloud solutions make it possible for the sector to manage its evolving compliance standards and regulations, advancing data attacks and increasing storage demands.

The delay is also a result of hybrid cloud’s newness. Today, cloud technology has reached a reasonable degree of maturity with tiered storage options, flexibility to move between public and private clouds and enhanced security protocols. Now that the technology offers these features, the doubts against adoptions are beginning to wane.

Continuous System Improvement Made Easy
Adoption isn’t just about storage and data. Once leaders make the decision to migrate to a hybrid cloud environment, future technology upgrades are much simpler — healthcare organizations can provision new systems in a fraction of the previous time and cost. It can take upwards of six months to source and install a new server, from the approval process through installations. But with an updated system, organizations can provision servers much faster (sometimes in a matter of days) or even have the servers entirely decommissioned. With such a dramatic efficiency improvement of the system structure, increased efficiency in the overall workflow and organization are soon to follow.

Addressing Security and Compliance Concerns
Increased efficiency is a significant benefit of hybrid cloud migration, but IT leaders won’t sing its praises until they are sure that patient and organization data is secure. In fact, 66 percent of IT leaders cite security as their top concern when adopting cloud technology. Luckily, today’s cloud is highly secure, with options that prioritize security and compliance, and therefore make sense for even the most regulation-bound industries, like healthcare. It also allows IT leaders to deploy the same kind of security mechanisms that they would in a traditional datacenter.

It’s important for IT leaders to understand that data is just as secure in hybrid cloud environments as it is in legacy systems. To ensure this understanding, IT leaders must know what security layers are in place, have visibility into where those functions are coming from and reassurance that they are all operating in a coherent fashion.

Working With the Hybrid Cloud
High-level security and efficiency concerns are top of mind for healthcare leaders, but what about the effect that a hybrid cloud migration has on the day-to-day operations of the organization? How will the blend of public and private clouds transform medical professionals’ work?

The hybrid cloud improves engagement levels in the organization. Hybrid cloud architectures integrate operations into a single ecosystem. That means everything across the organization is linked, from patient admissions and record keeping to billing and laboratory orders. Communication, transferring and medical care are streamlined across departments, wings and teams. As a result, patient care is easier and faster for medical professionals.

Before cloud migration, the healthcare sector was known for its reliance on outdated and unscalable technology. But an updated ecosystem of software makes it easy for IT teams to quickly respond to bugs and roll out updates organization-wide.

The Hybrid Cloud Advantage
Despite initial hesitation and concern surrounding such a large technological change, the healthcare sector is embracing hybrid cloud environments. Adoption is increasing and as more and more organizations complete the change, the conversation will soon shift to optimization.

Technological life cycles are not unique to the healthcare sector. And with data quality, storage and security top-of-mind priorities for leaders across the board, hybrid cloud systems are set to make an impact.

Sash Sunkara, co-founder and CEO of RackWare, is a technology executive with extensive expertise in solutions for data centers. Before Rackware, Sash served as Vice President of program management at Brocade Communications and Vice President of marketing for QLogic’s Network Solutions Division. She also founded 3Leaf Systems, a venture-backed server virtualization company. Sash holds a BSEE degree from California State University Sacramento.

This post appears through the MedCity Influencers program. Anyone can publish their perspective on business and innovation in healthcare on MedCity News through MedCity Influencers. Click here to find out how.