David Chou

Healthcare interoperability and industry cloud: What to look for

Sep 01, 2022
Cloud ManagementHealthcare Industry

Decision makers have many choices on the healthcare cloud offering. Here are some of the differentiators for healthcare.

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There are many different healthcare interoperability and industry clouds on the market. Which one should you choose? Some offer information management pipelines, while others focus on digital imaging communications in medicine (DICOM). You might want to start by considering your goals and which cloud will help you meet them.

Interoperability cloud offerings

Microsoft Azure Healthcare API

Azure Healthcare APIs provide a PaaS platform where customers can ingest and manage their PHI data. Customers who work with health data can use these Azure APIs to connect disparate sets of PHI for machine learning, analytics, and AI.

Key features include:

  • Structured data such as medical records from HL7 or C-CDA, generated by health devices, available through apps like HealthKit and Google Fit, or accessible on different databases, can be ingested and translated for the FHIR.
  • Unstructured data can be mapped and annotated to FHIR, which is viewable alongside other structured clinical information.
  • DICOM data can be ingested through an API gateway, and the technology will extract relevant metadata from images and map it to patient records.
  • Devices generating biometric data can provide essential insights on health trends to care teams through FHIR integration.

Amazon Healthlake

Amazon released its HealthLake service, which means users no longer have to worry about obtaining, provisioning, and managing the resources needed for infrastructure. Users will only need to create a new datastore on the AWS Console and configure it according to their encryption method preference (i.e., AWS-managed key or Bring Your Key).

Once the datastore is available, users can directly create, read, update, delete, and query their data. Furthermore, since Amazon HealthLake exposes a REST Application Programming Interface (API), users can integrate their application through several SDKs.

If you are working with a format that is not FHIR, the company has included several connectors which allow easy conversion from HL7v2, CCDA, and flat file data to FHIR.

Google Healthcare Data Engine

Healthcare Data Engine contains the Google Cloud Healthcare API, tailored to provide longitudinal clinical insights in FHIR. It can map more than 90 percent of HL7 v2 messages – medications and patient updates – to FHIR across leading EHRs.

The goal is to enable a cloud environment for advanced analytics and AI applications to help healthcare, and life sciences organizations harmonize data from EHRs, claims data, and clinical trials.

Cloverleaf FHIR Server

Infor has traditionally been at the forefront of seeking to help solve interoperability challenges within a healthcare organization. The Infor Cloverleaf suite has released a next-generation solution.

Infor FHIR Server provides a way for healthcare organizations to use modern technologies to digitize their operations by connecting data from both legacy and modern solutions into a single system. Implementations also support local requirements of the HL7 FHIR standard, making data available through secure web APIs for further analysis.

The FHIR server is part of a more overarching data interoperability platform that helps organizations with clinical data exchange. It has prebuilt connectors for easy integration into modern and legacy systems and continuous or batch processes.

Healthcare industry clouds


Is it enough to have big clients like the Mayo Clinic and CommonSpirit, among others, on board? Is Google’s traction in the market significant enough? Fitbit’s acquisition might provide another benefit since it will be integrated into Google’s virtual care and remote patient monitoring services. 

The care studio platform, which allows for a single centralized view of a patient from diverse EMR systems, has also been beneficial. I am a fan of the Google search capability for clinicians.  


With the recent buy of Nuance, Microsoft’s health cloud is placing a greater emphasis on voice solutions. The primary product is DAX integration with Microsoft Teams for virtual care. Microsoft has a superior stickiness in the 365 ecosystems because most healthcare institutions already use 365.

Microsoft has a significant advantage since it’s one of the easier products to get up and running quickly. I believe that Microsoft will do well in this market.


The healthcare ERP cloud vendor has a particular emphasis on employee experience, given the fact that health institutions around the world are facing shortages in all areas. Workday ERP adoption has been widespread among healthcare organizations, partly because supply chain is at the forefront of cost savings, and companies want to get to the bottom line of patient care.


The recent acquisition of Cerner by Oracle has caused a stir in the industry, with many wondering if it will be a game-changer or just another failed attempt at integration. Only time will tell. The company still has a long way to go before achieving its bold vision of creating a master patient database, but I applaud the effort nonetheless.

Key themes for decision makers

  • Who is your preferred partner? CIOs will utilize their partners to select their cloud interoperability platform. If you’re already a heavy user of Azure and 365, stick with Microsoft. The same applies to the other providers.
  • Pick a partner and go all in. This is not a time to pilot since these solutions solve the same problem and provide a similar playbook on interoperability.
  • Invest in upskilling engineers emphasizing native cloud development while mastering cloud-to-cloud integration. Avoid any potential for vendor lock-in.
  • If you solicit big four consulting firms for help with your assessment, be mindful that they may give you biased advice because of their existing partnership and joint ventures with healthcare cloud providers.
David Chou

David Chou is a senior healthcare technology executive with experience working in the healthcare space throughout the world. David is a dynamic keynote speaker and industry commentator working with organizations to transform their business models using technology. He has spoken around the world at healthcare tech-related conference including keynotes for leading industry events and intimate executive settings. Chou is also one of the most mentioned CIOs in the media and well quoted in outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, Modern Healthcare, HIMSS Media, ZDNet, CIO.com, Huffington Post, and Becker's Healthcare. David is an active member of both ACHE and HIMSS while serving on the board for CHIME.

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