The Sneaky Healthcare Cloud

Posted on April 11, 2013 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Contact her at @ziegerhealth on Twitter or visit her site at Zieger Healthcare.

Folks, I’ve read countless reports about the growing emergence of the cloud in healthcare. The thing is, many are studies summarizing broad trends in the industry, rather than news about specific providers who are willing to stand up and say that they actually implemented a cloud solution to house their healthcare data.

If hospitals and health systems are indeed adopting cloud solutions, why aren’t we hearing more about their experiences?  I have a few theories:

*  Migration:  Organizations that move from a legacy data management system to a cloud-based infrastructure have a lot of work to do. These folks probably don’t want to discuss what they’re doing until they’re pretty sure they’ve gotten the job done right.

Outsourcing:  Some healthcare leaders are outsourcing their cloud operations, but they’re not ready to scream to the rooftops that they’ve done so. My feeling is that they want to feel more confident about the relationship before they broadcast what they’re doing.

Security:  If a healthcare facility goes with the cloud, IT leaders there are probably pretty comfortable with cloud security, but I’m sure they don’t want to invite cybercriminals to put them to the test.

Politics:  Implementing the cloud for clinical data management may be a perfectly fine solution, but perhaps those facilities who have gone that way would rather not face criticism from outsiders who don’t agree with them.

Ultimately, the debates over cloud security may die.  As David Linthicum of HealthDataManagement notes, studies suggesting that even the public cloud can be secure are rolling in. (A recent study cited by Linthicum concludes that anything that can be accessed from outside, be it enterprise or cloud infrastructure, has an equal chance of being attacked.)

But for the time being, it seems pretty clear that hospitals aren’t going to hang out banners on their campus boasting about their cloud data infrastructure. Let’s see what happens over the next year or two.