Doctors Find Clarity in the Cloud, but IT Isn’t Convinced

A. DeCarlo
A. DeCarlo

Summary Bullets:         

  • Acceptance of the cloud in the medical field is on the rise: recent Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) research finds that 91% of physicians think cloud-based image sharing is beneficial to patients.
  • Providers of all stripes are lining up with on-demand offers targeted toward healthcare organizations, but it is still too early to forecast whether healthcare IT departments will get on board with the cloud.

For an industry as skilled at integrating technological innovations into daily practices as healthcare, it is surprising how mightily the sector has struggled with adapting information technology to improve operating efficiencies.  From doctor’s offices, clinics, and hospitals to the insurance companies that support them, the healthcare industry has toiled for decades to incorporate IT into its practices, to improve operational efficiencies and take out costs.  Unfortunately, years-long efforts around activities such as electronic healthcare record (EHR) initiatives have often yielded more frustration than real industry-wide process improvements. 

Consequently, it could be easy for healthcare organizations to dismiss industry attention to the cloud as more vendor-driven hype than real demand.  However, there is some clear evidence that this is not just a case of “build it and they will come” speculative thinking.  More healthcare organizations are looking at the model as a practical way to expand collaboration networks.  For example, medical image sharing among physicians and other healthcare professions seems ideally suited.  Cloud-based services can meet the application’s dynamic storage requirements and provide open access to distributed endpoints. 

Providers ranging from healthcare specialists to global carriers are ready with a number of cloud-based solutions that can cater to healthcare providers’ demands for more efficient and streamlined collaboration and storage solutions.  However, in spite of some real demand from the end users (in this case, the physicians), many healthcare organizations are still reticent about adopting cloud-based applications.  Whether this is due to concerns about security and reliability in the cloud, or the reality that other initiatives take priority, the cloud is not the top action item for most healthcare IT departments according to the annual HIMSS Leadership Survey.  Only 3% of the approximately 300 healthcare IT executives polled in the survey said cloud computing is a top priority for their organization.

Does this represent a real disconnect between physicians and IT that could stall adoption, or is this merely a bump in the road as technology teams wait for the model (and the solutions delivered through the cloud) to mature? 

What do you think?

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