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Health System Management • December 2016

20 WWW.HEALTHSYSTEMMGMT.COM HEALTHCARE IT HEALTH SYSTEM MANAGEMENT | DECEMBER | 2016 “Wearable technology could cut hospital costs by as much as 16% over five years, and remote patient monitoring technologies could reduce healthcare costs by $200 billion over the next 25 years.” the cloud will play an expanded role in achieving cost efficiencies while freeing up internal resources to focus on other IT initiatives, such as clinical and patient engagement applications. Healthcare organizations are growing increasingly comfortable with sensitive data residing outside the walls of their own data centers. As such, we can expect to see cloud services expand rapidly into the clinical domain, including electronic medical records, laboratory systems and more. In addition, adoption of next-generation portals — born in the cloud — will support expanded patient engagement and access to health information while delivering the cost efficiency and simplicity that today’s providers seek, along with the security they require. 2. INFRASTRUCTURE AS A SERVICE Healthcare IT organizations are embracing infrastructure as a service (IaaS) as they prepare to tackle a rapidly expanding application and service “to-do” list. IaaS delivers the benefits of standing up an environment rapidly without the cost or resources associated with a traditional, on-premises deployment. We’ve seen the greatest traction to date in development and testing (dev/test) environments as IaaS provides a cost-effective and readily available sandbox. Dev/test IaaS also presents less risk from both a data security and project profile perspective. Storage in the cloud is also growing in popularity, especially considering the tremendous savings that cloud-based block storage affords over a traditional, on-premise storage area network. Some organizations have seen savings upwards of 40% to 60%. That said, healthcare organizations continue to proceed cautiously with the type of data they are willing to commit to cloud storage. The cloud can serve as an attractive backup or storage target for data that does not need to be accessed regularly, thus freeing precious on-site storage for hot or active data. Using the cloud to store non-mission critical data, such as archival data needed for data retention or government compliance, also presents lower security and business continuity risks. This trend is likely to shift as healthcare organizations become more comfortable with moving data outside their data centers. Many are beginning to revisit their strategies and policies with an eye toward expanding the types of data they are willing to migrate to the cloud. In addition, the healthcare industry is experiencing an uptick in interest in disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS). These offerings deliver valuable cost avoidance and savings over designated disaster recovery sites. DRaaS environments also offer an entry point for the use of cloud storage. After failing over to a DRaaS site, IT organizations are increasingly considering whether to replicate specific data back to their data center or keep it in the cloud. This approach supports the ability of healthcare organizations to focus resources squarely on the management of Tier 1 applications in their on-premises data centers. Careful planning is essential, however, to derive optimal benefits from this strategy. .3 INTERNET OF THINGS AND THE CLOUD Wearables and the Internet of Things (IoT) hold tremendous potential for improving care and driving down healthcare costs. They are the next frontier, yet we are already beginning to see them deliver on their promise with patients of all ages — from youth to seniors. Using IoT data from wearable devices and cloudbased analytics, healthcare providers are beginning to monitor the wellness of their patients continuously. In turn, they can interact with them faster to mitigate complications when potential issues are identified. While wearable devices have become valuable tools to collect data never before available to healthcare providers, cloud analytics tools make that data useful. They yield a wealth of information about patients’ daily activities and expand insight into their overall health and wellness. In addition to improving outcomes, this critical insight from the cloud can help to drive down hospital readmission rates and the cost of managing care, especially for chronic conditions. According to IDC3, wearable technology could cut hospital costs by as much as 16% over five years, and remote patient monitoring technologies could reduce healthcare costs by $200 billion over the next 25 years. PLANNING FOR THE JOURNEY While most healthcare organizations have tried some type of cloud service, many are in the early stages of their journey and have proceeded cautiously. Because of the sensitivity of protected health information, as well as the mission-critical nature of clinical IT systems, healthcare providers have unique concerns and considerations when charting their path to the cloud. With limited time, experience and budgets, providers risk missteps, delays, cost overruns and possible failure if cloud utilization is not planned properly. They also can inadvertently set the stage for the creation of a new — and unwelcome — generation of silos in the cloud. Healthcare providers face important enterprise considerations:


Health System Management • December 2016
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