About 32 percent of healthcare organizations already use some form of cloud computing, and 73 percent report that they plan to move more applications to the cloud, according to a study from consulting firm Accenture.
While healthcare trails most other sectors of the economy in terms of IT adoption, those numbers are in line with what Accenture found in other industries. In manufacturing, 32 percent said they currently were using cloud-based applications, compared to 35 percent in retail and 29 percent in education. Similarly, 75 percent of survey respondents in the technology and government sectors have plans to make greater use of cloud computing in the future.
"Cloud computing is a newer technology and compared to existing IT is newer and more cost advantageous," particularly for small physician practices, Accenture senior research analyst Dadong Wan says in an interview with InformationWeek. The cloud offers the kinds of "economies of scale" that customers can't get with in-house servers, according to Wan.
The Accenture analyst also says that security with cloud computing actually is tighter than what typical healthcare organizations might find within their own walls because vendors can't afford to have vulnerable systems. "Cloud players' livelihood is protecting data," Wan explains.
IDC backs up Accenture's findings by reporting that cloud computing in general will grow by 27 percent a year, generating $55 billion in revenue by 2014, compared to $16 billion today. IDC sees 5 percent growth for on-site IT services in that same time frame.