Hospitals push more services to the cloud

Hospitals and health systems are using cloud-based services for a broader array of applications and storage needs, reflecting a growing trust in the cloud even amid lingering security concerns.

Although 84% of hospitals and health systems already use cloud services, 76% are expanding their usage by moving existing or new workloads to the cloud, according to a survey of 50 hospitals and health systems presented by HIMSS Analytics during a webinar on Tuesday.

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Many hospitals have gained trust in the cloud after using it for backup and disaster recovery functions. While most providers continue to use it for that purpose, 93% of survey respondents indicated they use cloud services for two or more functions, including a growing number that are hosting applications and data from disparate parts of the organization such as analytics, operations, finance and human resources.

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“The definition of the cloud is broadening as we move forward,” Bryan Fiekers, senior director of research services at HIMSS Analytics, said during the presentation.

Adherence to regulatory requirements was the topmost consideration when selecting a cloud service provider, while cost was an overwhelming challenge for those that already use cloud services. For the majority of respondents, security is still the primary barrier to cloud computing, even though just 9% of organizations have experienced a cloud-based breach.

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Those concerns aren’t likely to dissipate anytime soon, particularly following a recent clarification from Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) indicating cloud providers are considered business associates and required to enter HIPAA-compliant agreements with providers. At the same time, health systems are clearly becoming more comfortable with using cloud based applications across a variety of service lines.

“I think people will become trusted users of the cloud, but security is also very real concern,” Fiekers said. “While I don’t see momentum created by the cloud going away, I also don’t see security concerns going away.”