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Cloud enables healthcare firms to reduce IT complexities

Hospitals and other facilities in the healthcare sector are in a constant struggle to optimize operations without compromising their ability to secure or meet strict compliance requirements. When cloud computing first emerged, these guidelines often encouraged administrators to steer clear of the technology. As cloud services mature, however, it is becoming more obvious that healthcare companies can benefit from leveraging the solutions.

A recent report by a major cloud consultant firm revealed that federal incentives and rules are driving healthcare providers of all sizes to adopt electronic health records, which will inevitably increase the volume of resources used by those agencies and require advanced expertise. Because the cloud has unique capabilities that cater to these demands, the hosted services are quickly turning into a viable solution for hospitals looking to ensure operations do not suffer due to the presence of new technologies.

Additionally, a cloud infrastructure can be much more secure than a legacy data center, making the architectures ideal for the confidential information healthcare firms are charged with maintaining.

"Many healthcare executives traditionally believed that keeping medical records behind the firewall was the safest choice, but this is no longer the case," cloud computing expert Paul Nix said. "Cloud providers must conform to HIPAA regulations and many cloud providers specialize in implementing cloud configurations to meet the needs of healthcare."

Meanwhile, experience with the cloud is encouraging more organizations to use the services to integrate traditionally disparate healthcare systems, the report said. This is helping both large and small facilities reduce the costs associated with maintaining multiple solutions separately, while simultaneously improving efficiency by enabling caregivers to access several tools through a single platform.

In a separate InfoWorld report, IT expert David Linthicum asserted that the conventional "do nothing" mentality associated with emerging technologies is no longer acceptable in the healthcare sector. This is because companies are increasingly burdened with growing volumes of information and reduced budgets, forcing administrators to look for alternative means of carrying out operations. In many cases, cloud computing will be an effective resolution to this dilemma, as the scalable hosted services are managed off-site, reducing financial and storage concerns.

As the importance of the cloud grows across the healthcare sector, it will be critical that decision-makers find cloud service providers that cater to their agencies' specific needs and capabilities.

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