Editor's note: The following is an excerpt from FierceHealthIT's eBook, Hospitals in the Cloud: How the technology is helping executives boost quality and cut costs. You can download it for free.
The use of cloud technology in hospitals has accelerated in recent years, leading to an increasing variety of solutions and a growing awareness of the value such tools unlock in organizations. Among other benefits, cloud technology can help hospital executives save money, improve efficiency and reduce administrative overhead.
As with any technology, however, a cloud-based solution only offers benefits if it is implemented appropriately and measured accurately. The cloud is already reshaping the role of healthcare IT departments, shifting their focus from installing and running systems to coordinating and managing a growing suite of services. This trend is likely to continue as hospitals find new ways to use the cloud to improve their operations.
Demystifying the Cloud
The variety of potential applications for the cloud can make it an intimidating option, but a closer look at the technology reveals a simple concept.
“It really is just letting someone else host your information and your services,” says Ed Ricks, vice president of information services and chief information officer for Beaufort Memorial Hospital in Beaufort, South Carolina. That simplicity is no small thing, however, especially given the pace of change in the technology sector. For example, Beaufort Memorial has the luxury of dual data centers, but keeping that infrastructure up to date comes at a cost, according to Ricks. He sees the ability to eliminate one of those data centers down the road and rely on cloud technology for disaster recovery as a strong possibility. Service offerings that can take the place of aging infrastructure provide an opportunity for IT departments to make what amounts to virtual capital improvements, locking in up-to-date technology over the long haul.
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