by Brian Eastwood

Healthcare Cloud Use Prevalent, Poised to Spread, HIMSS Says

News Analysis
Jun 20, 20142 mins
Cloud ComputingCloud ManagementHealthcare Industry

Survey results from the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society's analytics arm says more than 80 percent of organizations use cloud services, primarily to host apps and data. Concerns remain, particularly around security and uptime, but most users seem optimistic.

Healthcare’s reluctance to embrace cloud technology appears to be waning. The 2014 HIMSS Analytics Cloud Survey, released this week, found that more than 80 percent of healthcare organizations use cloud services, and only 6 percent have no plans to use the cloud at all.

As this is HIMSS Analytics’ inaugural cloud use survey, there’s no historical baseline for comparison, though its findings are consistent with research released last fall regarding healthcare cloud use trends and this February about the And additional research suggests cloud’s potential to disrupt healthcare IT. In fact, the HIMSS Analytics survey of 150 healthcare IT professionals — the bulk of whom were CIOs (79) or IT directors (49) — suggests that cloud use has risen dramatically in just the last few months.

There seem to be many reasons why, according to survey respondents, including lower costs (56 percent), faster deployment (53 percent) and a lack of staff able to maintain on-premises systems (52 percent). Nearly two-thirds of respondents describe their primary cloud usage model as software as a service. Moreover, the bulk prefer the private cloud, with 37 percent classifying their cloud computing model as “private” and 36 percent calling it “hybrid.” (Only 23 percent called their cloud model “public.”)

Cloud Considerations for Healthcare

Many factors come into play when selecting a cloud service provider. Not surprisingly, willingness to sign a HIPAA business associate agreement is most important (65 percent), followed closely by physical and technical security (64 percent), compliance (61 percent), customer service (60 percent) and administrative security (57 percent).

Concerns about cloud adoption do remain. For example, roughly one-third of respondents report slow responsiveness for hosted applications. (That said, only 15 percent see a failure to meet promised service levels as grounds for terminating a business relationship.) What’s more, of the respondents who have yet to adopt cloud services, 35 percent have no plans to do so.

The conclusion to the HIMSS Analytics cloud survey, then, states a bit of the obvious: Healthcare organizations taking the first step to implement cloud services plan to keep walking, while those who aren’t “do not appear overly anxious to begin the implementation and adoption of cloud services.”

The infographic below, provided by HIMSS Analytics, summarizes the survey’s findings and also notes the top current and planned use cases for cloud services in healthcare.

2014 HIMSS Analytics CLoud Survey Infographic HIMSS Analytics

This infographis summarizes the 2014 HIMSS Analytics Cloud Survey.