John Halamka: CIOs should scrutinize cloud services

While the cloud holds promises for health IT, chief information officers must look at the services offered to them with a discerning eye, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center CIO John Halamka says in a post in the Wall Street Journal.

He says CIOs should look at a variation of software as a service (SaaS), which is operated by a third party and thus does not require new hardware or software installation. The variation, which Halamka calls "Outcomes as a Service," is the blending of business processes, people and technology work to achieve goals.

In Outcomes as a Service "economic incentives are aligned perfectly ... because downtime or poor application functionality results in immediate reduction in cloud vendor income," he writes.

The transition to personalized healthcare delivery and incentives for health information exchange are expected to increase the adoption of cloud services in healthcare, according to a Frost & Sullivan analysis. Cloud services in the U.S. market generated $903.1 million in 2013 and are expected to hit $3.5 billion in 2020, the analysis says.

When choosing a cloud vendor, Halamka says hospital CIOs need to make sure the service is updated frequently, and that those updates are meaningful. Security also must be a priority without limiting functionality, he says.

Security of services is a big issue in the healthcare industry, and cloud tech is no exception to that. A September report from iHT2 found that cloud security is one of three top worries for hospital IT execs.

Regardless of those concerns, execs are increasingly turn to the cloud to lower maintenance costs while trying to meet their growing technology needs, according to a survey by HIMSS Analytics.

Halamka also says that cloud investment decisions should be driven by the new shift to a payment model that is based on care coordination and quality of care instead of results.

"Progress toward achieving these efforts will come from choosing cloud services that offer subscription models, continuous innovation and the sharing of new features with every user instantly," he says.

To learn more:
- here's the WSJ post