Cloud adoption slower in healthcare than in other industries

Security concerns about proprietary data and applications are among the reasons the healthcare industry has been slow to adopt cloud technology, according to a new survey by Vernon Hills, Ill., technology vendor CDW.

Out of eight industries, healthcare ranked seventh in terms of cloud adoption, just ahead of state and local governments. Large business and higher education ranked first and second.

Overall, 35 percent of the 156 health IT professionals surveyed said their organization was implementing or maintaining cloud computing in 2012, up from 30 percent in 2011.

By comparison, 44 percent of the 157 large business professionals surveyed said their organizations embrace the cloud.

Most of the health IT professionals surveyed (74 percent) represented hospitals or medical centers, with 14 percent coming from doctors' offices and 12 percent from long-term care facilities.

Other factors contributing to the slower adoption of cloud technologies in healthcare included performance concerns with cloud services and technical integration concerns, especially regarding legacy systems. IT professionals said they expected to spend only 19 percent of their budgets in the coming year on cloud computing, with that figure rising to 29 percent within four years.

At the 20th National HIPAA Summit last year in Washington, D.C., attorneys raised the red flag on security issues with cloud-based electronic health record systems, with one pointing out that in such a setup, healthcare information is stored, used and analyzed remotely from the users, and accessed online. "It's going somewhere you don't know," attorney Howard Burde said.

Still, cloud-based healthcare efforts persist. IBM and New York-based Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, along with Indianapolis-based insurer WellPoint, last week introduced a new product that will enable clinicians to provide personalized treatments to patients based on individual medical information and updated treatment guidelines and research. Providers using the product will have remote access to a Watson-based advisor via the cloud.

To learn more:
- here's the CDW survey (.pdf)