Healthcare is Risk Averse and Cloud is Disruptive

I was recently talking with Josh Gluck, Vice President of Global Healthcare Technology Strategy at Pure Storage and he made this really powerful observation:

Healthcare is Risk Averse and Cloud is Disruptive.

I’ve definitely seen this first hand in healthcare. There is so much fear that stops organizations from any sort of change. Many healthcare leaders I meet are afraid of embracing the new. Doing what they’ve always done feels much safer and easier than trying out something new.

I think this is the big reason why cloud isn’t more widely adopted in healthcare. Every other major industry has adopted cloud. Cloud has proven that it can be just as secure as on site. In fact, many make the case that it’s even more secure. However, many resisted the unknown of moving to the cloud.

When you combine these fears with the fact that most healthcare IT departments are overwhelmed with far too many projects and not enough resources, it’s a recipe for stagnation. If you’re looking for an excuse not to do something in healthcare, you can find one. As a simple example, just invoke the term “HIPAA” whether it is a problem or not and you can hijack a project.

The problem with this approach is that it eventually catches up with you. As time progresses, the risk that’s created by doing nothing is far greater than the risk of moving to the cloud or some other new technology. Not to mention, the risk to your career. Certainly, healthcare executives want thoughtful innovation that protects patients, but it only takes a few meetings with their peers or reading the latest health IT news to realize when your organization is not really using IT to innovate while your competitors push forward.

While I’ve been talking about cloud so far, the same is true across your organization. Are you looking at ways to transform the patient experience? Are you looking at new models for managing your devices? When was the last time you innovated in your security infrastructure? I generally find that organizations are driven by innovation or they’re driven by fear of the risks. Where are you on that spectrum?

The easiest way I’ve seen to figure out where you land on the spectrum is to ask yourself whether you lead with no or if you lead with yes. The former defines a spirit of fear. The later defines a spirit of innovation.

This isn’t to say that you say yes to everything. Healthcare organizations all have limited resources. However, when you lead with asking how you could do something, you’ll discover that the new innovations can open up new pockets of time that allow you to better utilize the limited resources you’ve been given.

How do you navigate the need to innovate and the fear of risks? What process do you use to overcome this challenge in your organization? Have you seen this in healthcare organizations? What will it mean for healthcare organizations that are so risk averse they don’t embrace new innovations?

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference,, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.