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HIMSS Survey: Healthcare Organizations Embrace the Cloud

June 16, 2014
by Rajiv Leventhal
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Eighty percent of healthcare organizations report they are currently use cloud services, according to results of the inaugural cloud survey from HIMSS Analytics, the research arm of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS).

The top three reasons for adopting cloud services include lower maintenance costs, speed of deployment and lack of internal staffing resources. The survey, which included 150 respondents, shows a positive growth outlook for cloud services as almost all healthcare organizations currently using cloud services plan to expand their use of these tools.

Half of the cloud adopters are hosting clinical applications in the cloud, primarily using software as a service (SaaS). Other typical cloud services include health information exchange (HIE), hosting human resources (HR) applications and data, as well as backup and disaster recovery.

“Cloud services have been long praised as a tool to reduce operating expenses for healthcare organizations.  The data presented in our inaugural survey demonstrates the healthcare industry’s eagerness to leverage this resource,” Lorren Pettit, vice president of market research for HIMSS Analytics, said in a statement. “With such a positive market outlook, we hope vendors will leverage the business intelligence gleaned from this report, continue working with providers to meet their needs, and help healthcare organizations provide the most cost-efficient care.” 

Healthcare organizations take into consideration a number of factors when selecting a cloud services provider, the research found.  The top concerns for healthcare organizations seeking cloud services are the cloud services provider’s willingness to enter into a business associate agreement (BAA) as well as physical and technical security.

Even after a cloud services provider has been selected and the cloud services have been adopted by the healthcare organization, there are still challenges.  Two-thirds of healthcare organizations have challenges, including a lack of visibility into ongoing operations, customer service, as well as costs and fees.

Half of the respondents also identified performance issues, such as slow responsiveness of hosted applications as a problem, but were willing to work with their existing cloud service provider to resolve their issues, rather than switch to a new one. 

Only small fraction of respondents expressed a resistance to adopting cloud services (six percent). Of these respondents, nearly half cited security concerns as the primary barrier to their willingness to adopt cloud services.

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