UC San Diego Health pushes EHRs to the cloud, with UC Irvine slated for November

UC San Diego Health’s Jacobs Medical Center
UC San Diego Health has transitioned its EHRs to the cloud as part of a broad effort to improve data sharing across the UC system.

University of California San Diego (UCSD) Health has transitioned its EHR system to the cloud, while its sister hospital is preparing for a similar move by the end of the year.

The transition is part of a broader IT strategy at all five University of California-affiliated hospitals that prioritizes cloud computing and shared data centers. UC Irvine Health, which is in the midst of transitioning from Allscripts to Epic, is scheduled to add its new EHRs to the cloud in November, allowing the two systems to easily share medical records. 

UCSD is the first academic medical center to host its EHRs on Epic’s cloud infrastructure, the health system announced on Monday. The move comes several years after a coalition of CIOs and CTOs throughout the UC health system developed a strategic plan that aims to push patient data to vendor-hosted cloud platforms, which is more economical than investing in local data warehouses, Christopher Longhurst, M.D., chief information officer at UCSD Health told FierceHealthcare.

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“Our data center isn’t the tier 4 data center we want and to get it there would be beyond our financial means,” Longhurst said.

Economics aside, the move to the cloud provides a more robust security infrastructure along with improved responsiveness. Longhurst said there was a notable difference in performance during the first week on the cloud compared to the previous week on local servers.

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The cloud-based infrastructure at UCSD Health and UC Irvine sets up new opportunities for data sharing, analytics and population health that aren’t possible on disparate local systems, said Adam Gold, chief technology officer at UC Irvine Health and UCSD Health. The San Diego facility also shares its EHR system with UC Riverside Health, which has six clinic locations throughout Southern California.

Longhurst said there are no plans to consolidate EHR platforms with the University of California’s three other hospitals—UC Davis, UC San Francisco and UC Los Angeles—each of which have their own variations of Epic. But the entire UC system is leveraging two shared data centers located in Southern California and Washington.

Ultimately, however, Longhurst said the UC system is broadly looking to decrease its reliance on local hosting, and cloud storage is the most promising choice moving forward.

“There are some things that have to be hosted locally, but we see a future where we’ve moved most if not all applications to cloud hosting,” he said.