Peeking Ahead to 2021, Healthcare Leaders Moving to Cloud Find More Value and Less Risk

The following is a guest article by Heather Haugen, PhD from Atos.

The healthcare industry has been hesitant to adopt cloud solutions- asking tough questions about return on investment, security, and data governance. As we peek ahead to 2021, we are seeing significant momentum and interest in cloud. In 2019, the global Healthcare Cloud Computing market size was $21 billion. It is expected to reach $64 billion by the end of 2026. What has changed and how can leaders best manage this transformation?

Public and Private Cloud Maturity

Both public and private cloud technology continues to mature making the transition to cloud more predictable. The breadth of offerings makes it easier to manage and deploy cloud services. Public cloud providers have made significant investments in healthcare specific capabilities. Beyond the technology, strategic planning is often the most important step in gaining value from cloud long term. Key components of the planning effort include determining organizational goals, committing resources, understanding the build components, and identifying appropriate cloud partners. With a robust strategy and leadership commitment, cloud services can deliver value across both clinical and business systems.


Interoperability remains a lofty goal for healthcare. In recent years, we have been focused on the adoption of digital systems like electronic health records (EHRs), enterprise resource systems (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), and specialty systems. This has been important and difficult work, but the next challenge is moving beyond these silos to use data across the entire continuum of care. We need to analyze, model, report, and share insights which is nearly impossible with the current IT infrastructure. Cloud is an important enabler of interoperability across systems, organizations, and stakeholders.

Quality of Care

The electronic health record brings significant opportunity for improved quality of care, access, and administrative simplification. We have been able to drive some value in our move from paper to electronic, but the journey continues for us to achieve the quality, safety, and efficiencies needed in healthcare. Aligning our cloud strategy with initiatives that drive better care will ensure long term value.  The opportunities for cloud to influence quality are vast:

  • Focus on data analytics and insights across the continuum of care
  • Increased use of virtual care/telehealth
  • Accelerator of medical research
  • Real-time collaboration among clinicians across the globe
  • Patient monitoring using IoT devices
  • Payer and provider collaboration for chronic disease management
  • Increased access to healthcare records for patients
  • Improved patient experience from check-in to check out
  • Consumer driven- wearable devices, patient engagement, and EHR access

Healthcare Innovation

Cloud speeds the pace of innovation.  Digital hybrid cloud combines the innovation and scale of the public cloud with the security and control of private cloud. The IT organization can leverage services from public cloud providers to make application development faster and more robust.  Having access to more data means we can utilize machine learning and artificial intelligence to inform clinical decisions. The computing power, flexibility, and scale bring significant benefits to innovation and collaboration among providers, payers, and life sciences.

Reducing Cloud Security Risks

According to the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA), security remains the biggest concern for healthcare leaders as they consider a cloud initiative. Public cloud providers have addressed many of the early concerns about security and advanced both the technology and management of public cloud. Today, many would argue that cloud offers more security.  According to Gartner, public cloud as an infrastructure will suffer at least 60% fewer security incidents than those in traditional data centers.

  • Technical expertise: healthcare organizations are an attractive target for cyberattacks. Many organizations don’t have the technical expertise and resources to keep up with security. Cloud providers can dedicate entire teams to this work and are highly motivated to secure the data.
  • Fewer vulnerabilities: healthcare organizations are more likely to have multiple vulnerabilities and have fewer resources to identify and test for vulnerabilities. The cloud providers dedicate time and resources to both identifying these risks and often hire outside experts to test their systems.
  • Disaster recovery: working with a cloud partner to define protocols for disaster recovery saves time and critical resources within a healthcare team.
  • Legacy technology: healthcare organizations struggle to secure the budget needed to replace legacy infrastructure. Cloud providers utilize the latest technology and replace technology proactively which also makes it easier to patch and maintain. The use of cloud also reduces capital expenditure requirements, freeing cash that may be used to further advance the digitalization of healthcare processes.

Healthcare leaders have been asking the right questions when it comes to cloud delivering value. Like any IT investment, the strategic planning, implementation, and management are critical to driving those outcomes.  Healthcare is moving to cloud and discovering more value and less risk.

About Heather Haugen
Heather Haugen PhD is the Chief Science Officer for Digital Health Solutions for Atos. Haugen holds a faculty position at the University of Colorado Denver- Anschutz Medical Center as the Director of Health Information Technology, where she actively mentors- doctoral students and teaches courses. She is also the author of Beyond Implementation: A Prescription for the Adoption of Healthcare Technology.

About Atos
Atos is a global leader in digital transformation with 110,000 employees and annual revenue of € 12 billion. European number one in cybersecurity, cloud and high performance computing, the group provides tailored end-to-end solutions for all industries in 73 countries. A pioneer in decarbonization services and products, Atos is committed to a secure and decarbonized digital for its clients.

The purpose of Atos is to help design the future of the information space. Its expertise and services support the development of knowledge, education and research in a multicultural approach and contribute to the development of scientific and technological excellence. Across the world, the group enables its customers and employees, and members of societies at large to live, work and develop sustainably, in a safe and secure information space.

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