Article

How Public Cloud is Advancing Digital Transformation in Healthcare

Digital Business in Healthcare

Aligning strategic business initiatives to new digital capabilities has always been the key to true digital transformation. Ultimately, businesses are looking for that next digital advantage to improve the customer experience and outperform their competition. In healthcare, this is no different.

To draw on current events, let’s look at what the University of Maryland Medical Center was able to accomplish with an organ transplant flying drone. This is just one example of how healthcare systems today are constantly challenged with new capabilities that result in better patient experience, as well as better care delivery.

Here at AHEAD, 45 percent of the clients we serve operate in the healthcare space. As a member of the team that spends 90 percent of the week helping to solve healthcare I.T challenges, I can confidently say that public cloud adoption rates for healthcare have, traditionally, trailed other verticals—mainly due to the application profile and HIPAA compliance concerns. However, over the past 6-to-12 months, we’ve seen an energetic desire from an industry that is now looking to public cloud providers to help expand their care delivery needs. With that said, let’s take a look at what Mike Jones, a VP Analyst at Gartner, predicted earlier this year:


“By 2020, 40% of healthcare providers will realize their Electronic Health Record (EHR) technology cannot fully support their care delivery needs.”


This is a very bold statement, especially considering every healthcare system I’ve worked with considers their EHR/EMR as the “crowned jewel” application. Keep in mind, this isn’t a five- or ten-year prediction; this analyst is saying next year, in 2020, 40 percent of healthcare providers are going to come to the realization that their traditional set of applications won’t meet their care delivery needs. With my experience talking to healthcare CIOs and I.T. leadership, I would thoroughly agree with Jones’ statement. Healthcare I.T. leadership has a responsibility to improve care delivery which, in turn, will drive the need to onboard new capabilities to support digital transformation.

Jones also states that a path to digital transformation crosses two functional paths—healthcare business management and care delivery. Each healthcare system’s path will be unique, often creating a winding path with intricate dependencies as the patient experience and business value proposition are modified:

Healthcare Business ManagementCare Delivery
Non-clinical activitiesDiagnosis
Removal of wasteTreatment
Real-time orchestration of healthcare resourcesOutcomes

New Capabilities are Driving Public Cloud Adoption

One thing we do know for certain is that these new capabilities on both the healthcare business management and the care delivery sides are driving public cloud adoption. It’s these hyper-focused and targeted use cases that are driving the need for native cloud services—services that just can’t be replicated with on-prem infrastructure. For example, many healthcare systems at the forefront of public cloud are now leveraging applied artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), as shown below:

It was never realistic for healthcare systems to “lift-and-shift” monolithic applications into a traditional IaaS model—but we are seeing healthcare systems lean towards public cloud with strategic use cases such as predictive analytics. They’re embracing the ability to leverage the data they’re already generating to streamline patient flow, which reduces operational waste and ultimately, improves the patient experience. There’s also a trend of researchers pushing healthcare I.T. for public cloud enablement to onboard new capabilities for cancer research and genomic sequencing:

Ultimately, what hasn’t changed are the same challenges faced by many organizations looking to consume public cloud services. Healthcare is plagued by the same problems affecting other large enterprises and by 2020, 75 percent of enterprises are expected to experience visible business disruptions due to infrastructure and operations skills gap. And it’s the increased complexities driven by IoT, cloud and DevOps that are driving this prediction. Competing for top-tier talent in these skill disciplines has become very challenging for all industries and verticals. Fortunately, there are ways to approach and mitigate the skills gap, which I’ll dive into in an upcoming AHEAD webinar.

Lastly, security compliance challenges in public cloud cannot be ignored. As we work with our clients to help them build a cloud operating model, building a security framework within the public cloud is an absolute imperative. Unfortunately, there are a handful of misconceptions around HIPAA compliance guidelines and managing PII/PHI within the public cloud, so it’s to align HIPAA guidelines with actionable security controls to see the most success.


Check out the video below to learn more about AHEAD’s Public Cloud Operating Model and how our team of experts can put your healthcare organization on the path to true digital transformation.