Healthcare Industry Poised to Break Into Clouds

Written by Syed Khurram

Health Care Industry Poised for the CloudThe health care industry has faced some specific barriers to full adoption of cloud computing. A primary barrier is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability act, or HIPAA.

Every health care professional knows the implications of HIPAA, which not only required the establishment of electronic health records (EHRs) but also mandated stringent regulations on data privacy.

In effect, the law mandated a huge expansion in health care computing needs (by requiring EHRs), while at the same time blocking an easy path to meeting those needs in the public cloud (by threatening heavy fines for privacy violations).

Most institutions were simply not willing to trust data security to the public cloud. Even with encryption and other barriers, data breaches and security failures remain all too common. And, if a breach occurs, it’s the health care provider – not the cloud provider – who’s on the HIPAA hook.

That leaves private cloud as the default answer, but the implementation process of traditional vendors has proven too slow and expensive. Hence, we’ve seen a slow migration of health care to the cloud.

A Cloud Explosion is Here for Health Care

Apparently, though, the health care market is about to explode onto the cloud scene. A new report from the global research firm MarketsandMarkets says the North American health care cloud computing market will go from $1.75 billion in 2013 to $6.5 billion by 2018.

The report finds adoption driven mostly by mandates in the Patient Protection and Affordability Care Act, which most of us know as Obamacare. Other factors: the dynamic nature of health insurance plans, new payment models and the ability to scale data costs effectively in the cloud.

Another factor that’s bound to drive adoption in health care is a new class of Cloud Management Platform that promises to eliminate security concerns by enabling faster, less-expensive implementation of private and hybrid cloud solutions.

Connectloud’s uCloud™ platform, for example, reduces the traditional private cloud deployment time of several months to as little as 30 to 45 days, depending on hardware provisioning. The software gets switches and firewalls up and running quickly and stiches those virtual machines together to provide a strong, secure private environment.

And, unlike many earlier private cloud solutions, newer options are natively compliant with HIPAA because they never touch any patient data.

New Options are Good News for Health Care CIOs, CEOs

Health care CIOs will love these new CMPs because their self-service interfaces make deploying and provisioning clouds a snap. The software automates and controls provisioning, while role-based administration ensures control and security. Tenant administrators can not only deploy their clouds efficiently but also designate sub-tenants and decide who in each business gets access to what aspects of the cloud.

CEOs have other reasons to love the new wave of Cloud Management Platforms. For one, they allow precise cost control and visibility into how much infrastructure is being used at a given time, how many applications are deployed atop it and what the company’s monthly use of those apps is.

All of this helps him not only track the costs of his IT system, but also predict future expenses, such as when he’ll need more hardware and how much will be required – ultimately leading to lower operating and capital costs.

The end result is a lower-cost, higher-efficiency model that will only hasten health care’s inevitable migration to the cloud.

Our next blog will focus on why 2014 is the Year of Software Defined Networking – not just for the health care industry – but all Enterprises… Stay tuned!