Health care welcomes the cloud, as resistance crumbles

New IT leadership is helping more and more health care providers move to the cloud

Not long ago, if I mentioned the word “public cloud” when visiting a health care company, I was likely to be walked politely off the property. The pushback came hard, to be kind.

But I figured that once cloud computing became more proven and the world did not collapse as data was relocated to public clouds, the health care industry would follow. It seems I was right. These days, new CIOs have taken over in many health care organizations, and their marching orders are to cut costs. It’s not surprising that they would look at what cloud computing can do to help become more efficient.

A new Frost & Sullivan report shows that the U.S. health care cloud market generated $903.1 million in revenue in 2013; the same study expects the market to top $3.5 billion by 2020. Relative to the other industries, that’s not explosive growth. But when you consider the size of the health care industry — which is small compared to finance, manufacturing, and retail — that’s a solid climb.

No question, compliance issues must be considered. In the United States, be careful how you manage personally identifiable information (PII) data, under regulations that will, in vague terms, tell you how. The fun trip down the HIPAA path includes changes rules, regulations, and technology definitions. Europe is even more confusing, with some data not allowed to leave the country. I can understand why many people in health care organizations simply did not bother to try anything new ... until now.

What changed? The new guard is now running health care IT, with more innovative and progressive thinking than there was a few years ago. This progressive thinking includes using more health telemetry technology (heart rate monitors, sleep monitors, and blood pressure monitors) that you wear for extended periods of time, automated interaction between physicians and patients, and now the use of public clouds to provide more efficient and cost-effective care.

Health care management can’t argue with the numbers. A brave new world is coming soon to your local hospitals and clinics.