May 21, 2018

Cloudy Outlook: A 2018 CIO Cloud Perspectives Survey

Marcia Noyes
Marcia Noyes

Datica Alumni — Former Director of Communications

Migrating organizational data to the cloud is one of a number of concerns hospital CIOs currently face. To dig deeper into those concerns, Datica conducted a survey on the topic during and after HIMSS18. Members of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) answered questions regarding their organizations’ plans and efforts to move their data to the cloud. The results reveal that many healthcare organizations are in a holding pattern.

Cloud storage has the potential to change healthcare in positive ways, from administration efficiencies to population health. An array of new opportunities for providers await when moving data storage into the cloud. But, there’s a long way to go before that potential can be realized.

Cloud adoption is a top priority, but not in full throttle mode

About 80% of the survey respondents said that cloud hosting is in the top 20 priorities within their organizations; however, only around 30% said they have a strategy for that data migration. Such massive operational changes take time. We need only look at healthcare’s recent past with implementation of electronic health records (EHRs) to see the truth in that statement.

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Those organizations that have already made the cloud leap are innovating: 32% are using the cloud to build machine learning applications, and 45% are creating applications to improve population health. With the possibility of such uses, why are some organizations hesitating?

One of the biggest concerns survey respondents cite is around security. Roughly 50% said it is a primary worry. Given the regulatory landscape and the sensitivity of protected health information (PHI), it’s not surprising that security is a top concern. As cloud hosting becomes a more viable option, new tools are emerging to give healthcare organizations greater control over their data, which will help dissipate concerns about data security.

Another barrier for some organizations is the lack of a clear business value in storing data in the cloud. About 40% of the executives who took the survey said that things like what to do with existing equipment or how their organization would make practical use of cloud storage impedes the shift.

Some are taking to the cloud, others remain grounded

Almost 20% of survey respondents reported that their organizations are already hosting 50% or more of their software infrastructure remotely. An additional 14% said at least a quarter to half of their infrastructure is hosted remotely. That means just over one-third of the organizations represented in the Datica survey are discovering what works, what possibilities are opened, and how the cloud might improve healthcare delivery.

Conversely, about 20% of the executives said that migrating data storage to the cloud was not a current priority for their organization. Regulatory compliance, security, and privacy are all concerns, among others.

In the broadest terms, the survey seems to show that executives are aware of the potential of the cloud, both for improving healthcare delivery as well as for data breaches. As is always the case, some organizations are innovating and pushing the limits of what is possible, while others take a wait-and-see attitude.

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