Microsoft Aims To Alleviate Health IT Cloud Concerns

Healthcare providers still have many reservations about the security of cloud computing for electronic medical records and mission-critical apps.
A recently published study conducted by Ipsos Research on behalf of Microsoft highlighted the security concerns swirling around cloud computing among business decision-makers (BDMs) in healthcare.

Among the findings are:

-- More than 2 in 5 BDMs in healthcare say they know at least a fair amount about cloud computing.

-- Nearly half of BDMs in healthcare (49%) say their company has used cloud computing.

-- Concerns about data security and privacy are the greatest potential deterrents of cloud adoption among BDMs in healthcare.

-- Eight in 10 BDMs in the healthcare sector (79%) would be more favorable towards cloud computing if the platform was private and not shared, more than in any other sector.

Nevertheless, last month two major announcements may have been the clearest indication yet that vendors believe there is promise in offering cloud computing to healthcare delivery organizations, especially among small and medium-size physician practices. In June, GE Healthcare introduced Centricity Advance, a new Web-based, SaaS platform that offers a combination of EMR, practice management, and patient portal solutions for small, independent physician practices. Last month also saw Dell announce a partnership with SaaS provider Practice Fusion to offer an electronic medical record package for small and medium-size medical practices.

According to Aylward, the healthcare industry and technology vendors are working toward developing a more secure cloud computing environment that meets regulations of the HITECH Act in the way data is stored and distributed in the cloud.

"As those assurances emerge, we expect that over the next three to five years, we'll see more providers embracing the benefits of cloud computing. We'll see an increase in the use of online services for business applications, such as e-mail, CRM, and file-sharing," Aylward predicts. "We expect to see an increased adoption and mixture of private and public cloud deployment, with some larger organizations even experimenting with the cloud to create and sell custom applications. The possibilities of the cloud are endless for health organizations," Aylward added in his blog post.