Data Growth and Cloud Migration

9.5.18
By Ashu Singraur, Contineo Health

The Healthcare Industry is currently challenged by exponential data growth together with a massive amount of data management, integration and regulations. As institutions look for better ways to manage the huge volumes of data, they have to balance the benefits of adopting cloud infrastructure against the risks of patient data security and compliance.

Lower setup and maintenance costs along with the promise of higher efficiency, scalability and interoperability are increasingly attracting organizations towards cloud migration.  According to a recent HIMSS survey, organizations are more inclined towards cloud infrastructure from a revenue cycle management, disaster recovery, back up and consumer engagement perspective. Research from “MarketsandMarkets” estimates that the healthcare cloud computing market will increase by $5.75 billion from 2015 to 2020.

While efforts are just getting underway for comprehensive EHR migrations to the cloud, individual IT areas such as data storage, business analytics, and telemedicine support are seeing significant migration from conventional technologies to cloud-based services. Popular Business Intelligence tools have also incorporated accessing/storing data through cloud-based services with their latest versions. A tightly competitive market is driving significant investment towards developing big data analytics for improving clinical, financial and value-based care reporting. ResearchnReports predicts that the big data analytics sector will grow to more than $32.27 billion by 2022, and clinical analytics will be a huge component of that growth. With growing demand, business analytics in healthcare domain Orbis research predicts that the global healthcare IT market will grow at compounded annual growth rate of 15.56% until 2021.

Leading EMR providers have started pushing cloud migration. More than a dozen Epic clients like UC San Diego have moved from maintaining a traditional EHR software system to become Epic hosted EHR for cost effectiveness, sustainability and increased efficiency. Being hosted directly through Epic also helps customers get timely cybersecurity updates and software patches directly.

Some of the primary considerations while moving to the cloud for a health system should be:

  • Enterprise content migration from legacy EMR
  • Licensing and related costs
  • Security compliance (interface deployment)
  • Enterprise setting decision – Public vs. private cloud vs hybrid
  • Security controls on the cloud and additional firewalls
  • Security of data at rest for the cloud deployment
  • Security of data in transit
  • System performance and user experience
  • Go-live approach and infrastructure optimization plan

Health systems considering the move must also be aware of the HIPAA Omnibus Rule which states that any entity (i.e. cloud storage vendor) that has access to protected health information becomes a business associate and is regulated even if they do not view or access data. With hospital organizations using different cloud vendors for different IT needs, each vendor and their subcontracting partners must be HIPAA compliant which can be challenging from financial and timing perspectives. The main cloud players like VMware and Amazon web services have started providing direction and documentation to organizations on how to be HIPAA compliant while using their cloud-based services.

While recent data and security breaches in the healthcare industry provide a cautionary tale, the acceleration to cloud migration is real and healthcare organizations are gearing up for the challenges of maintaining cloud technology which is secure and HIPPA compliant.


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