Scalability, speed drive healthcare cloud adoption

The healthcare industry is slowly migrating operations to the cloud, as administrators recognize the potential benefits the technology can yield toward big data initiatives. The nearly limitless scalability, cost effectiveness and versatility of the virtual environments provides hospitals and other healthcare facilities new possibilities that were unattainable with the old technologies they were using, according to a report by Healthcare IT News.

"[The cloud] serves as both a conduit and repository for data," said Paul Burke of IMA Consulting, according to Healthcare IT News. "For hospitals that are still using 25-year-old technology, hooking up to the cloud provides a wealth of new functionality and enables them to squeeze more mileage out of those systems."

For this and other reasons, the healthcare cloud computing market is forecast to expand at a compound annual growth rate of more than 20 percent between 2012 and 2017, according to MarketsandMarkets.

How does the cloud benefit healthcare?
While there are many reasons to use the cloud in hospitals, one of the most beneficial qualities of the technology is its ability to streamline operations and enhance overall performance, Healthcare IT News said. In the past, many healthcare facilities were skeptical of the cloud because of security concerns. As the technology flourished, however, decision-makers began to embrace the cloud for what it is: a game-changer.

"Cloud apps can now sit on top of legacy systems and provide downloadable reports in 30 seconds, compared to days with a mainframe," Burke said, according to the news source.

Furthermore, cloud computing can help small hospitals located in rural areas connect with major facilities throughout the country. This is especially helpful for organizations that are underserved or lack the appropriate resources to truly deliver high-quality care to patients.

Are there any challenges with healthcare clouds?
Like every other technology, there are of course some obstacles that still need to be overcome. Not surprisingly, security and privacy are still among the top challenges associated with adopting the solutions in healthcare, the news source noted.

Nevertheless, most decision-makers are not letting these concerns hinder their demand to embrace the cloud. Instead, administrators are creating more robust service-level agreements that enable their firms to remain compliant with healthcare industry regulations.

As the overall cloud market continues to expand, privacy and security issues will likely become less burdensome, enabling healthcare organizations around the world to adopt the technology without delay.

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