Healthcare Cloud “dos and don’ts”

While the cloud has become an increasingly important part of consumer computing — see Apple’s cloud product and Google’s plans to transform Documents into Google Drive — healthcare organizations are rightfully waiting just a bit before moving ahead.

If you’re wrestling with cloud issues, you might find some of the following cloud “dos and don’ts” tips to be of use. These are my favorite of the recommendations Mariano Maluf, CTO of Atlanta-based GNAX, shared with Healthcare IT News:

* Assess your environment and capabilities for short-term and long-term opportunities for cloud use, then prioritize. Which would you implement first?

* Be aware that there are some apps that probably shouldn’t be migrated to a private cloud initially, Maluf suggests. Hybrid models, secure multi-tenant public clouds and enterprise-grade cloud storage may be first-line choices.

* Don’t forget to look into the effects of cloud installations, such as architectural dependencies. Also analyze the impact of refresh cycles and application latency tolerance.

* Do develop an integrated cloud strategy, with a related roadmap, Maluf advises. “Focus on incremental value by emphasizing infrastructure delivery and management simplification,” he told HIN.

* Do benchmark your application performance today. Otherwise, it will be tough to know how the cloud has affected app performance, and then it will be tough to establish SLAs with vendors.

I really like these tips because they dig into application performance, rather than going off on a fishing expedition as to what security breaches could possibly happen. (Security is certainly important, but once you establish a security baseline the discussion must inevitably move on to performance.)

Do you have any other tips on cloud implementation to add?  Do you disagree that we should table security as the primary discussion around the cloud?  Is it too soon to do that yet?

About the author

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.


  • To me the first thing to figure out about going to the cloud; is building and maintaining and securing a system a prime part of what it is you do? Do you have the in house resources to do better if you host it yourself?

    A hospital with a large data center and a great alternate site far enough away might do well having it’s EMR/EHR system on its own equipment in its own sites. But consider that IT is not why you have the hospital – you have it to treat people.

    Doctor’s offices certainly don’t have big IT staffs and sites (except maybe huge group practices). They are far more likely to do well with ‘cloud’ based systems then ones maintained in-house.

    But let’s say one decides to go to the cloud. It is extremely important for whoever is in charge to understand that they still have all sorts of legal responsibility for the system – a point that is frequently not well understood. One still needs to pick a suitable product, and put together a viable project to make it work. And he or she needs to stay involved long after implementation – management can never just walk away from the system and ignore it. And that’s true for a huge hospital or a single person practice.

  • Cloud is a “big” word on the minds and lips of healthcare providers today. Often used loosely it can embody everything from a place to store files or a complete structure that allows these organizations to function and innovate, and yes even care for patients better.
    New roles are coming forward in offices as well as facilities IT departments that allow providers to have more input, more configuration and more access to the full process of implementation towards a cloud. Companies that offer the full package from data center to service, are also emerging as thought leaders to answer the many questions these providers may have during this process.
    Not every cloud is one size fits all, but thank goodness they are so extremely flexible!

  • Experience talks . . . intranet was around before Cloud. People who are experienced in intranet data already know what they’ll do differently as soon as they are using Cloud space, tools and methods. If you worked at developing a great intranet method for sharing and using data in your company or system in the past, Cloud EHRs/EMRs should be no problem. In fact you will be better prepared for this change than most others. Companies taking on Cloud have to search for people with these skills, not require experienced workers to learn a new technology if they aren’t ready for it. The clinicians and such on the other hand have the responsibility of learning this responsibility and not be so close-minded about it.

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