HIMSS Cloud Survey Reveals Healthcare Users' Issues With ROI, Security
By Megan Williams, contributing writer
The Health Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS) released its 2014 Analytics Cloud Survey last month (available for free download here). Cloud services are an increasingly common solution for healthcare organizations trying to navigate tighter margins because of industry and regulatory changes. These same organizations, however, are simultaneously facing increased security threats and tighter regulations around the protection of patient data.
The survey represents an effort on the part of HIMSS to better understand challenges, barriers, and successes that industry organizations may be having around the cloud and its associated services.
Most respondents in the survey came from hospital-based organizations, but also included IT executives from medical practices, hospitals, and corporate offices of healthcare systems. The survey included 150 respondents.
More than 80 percent of the respondents to the survey reported that their organization is currently using cloud services. Half of the respondents said that they used the cloud to host clinical applications — the majority of which were hosting data using SaaS (Software-as-a-Service). The cloud was also being used in health information exchange, HR applications and data, and back up and disaster recovery. Of the respondents surveyed, three quarters reported using either a private or hybrid cloud services.
Healthcare cloud users are also very loyal. Instead of switching providers, most organizations are likely to try to remediate any issues that arise. Half of the respondents said that they would accept service level credits or give their provider another chance to fulfill promised service levels.
Most reports you read on the importance of the cloud will cite cost as a driving factor for any organization adopting the solution. The HIMSS survey though, revealed an interesting twist to the cost question. When asked their organization’s reason for adopting the cloud, 55.7 percent of respondents selected “Less Cost than Maintaining Current IT Maintenance Costs.” However, when asked whether they were getting the data they needed from their service provider to measure the value of their investment, less than half reported that they were.
Security Still An Issue
Security, of course, is an ongoing issue in healthcare, and the survey confirmed that. Some highlights around the role security played in selecting a cloud service provider included:
- Willingness to enter into a business associate agreement (BAA) and security issues, such as physical/technical security of a cloud services provider and/or data center, were top areas of consideration.
- Respondents working for stand-alone hospitals were more likely to identify regulatory compliance as a factor of high consideration than were those at corporate organizations.
- Human factors, such as whether or not the cloud service provider’s staff was U.S.-based, were least likely to be considered when evaluating a cloud services provider.
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