Hospital CIOs push for cloud computing

The United States Affordable Care Act and requirements outlined by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have forced health care industry participants to reduce treatment expenses. Often lauded as cutting operational costs for enterprises, CIOs are regarding cloud computing as a viable option. However, implementing the technology is often easier said than done. 

The shifting role of the CIO 
As opposed to viewing IT departments as necessary expenses, hospitals are beginning to regard these teams as profit-driving assets. Just like in the world of business, the profitability and efficiency of medical centers are dependent on the capabilities of their computing infrastructures. A study conducted by SSi-SEARCH Research asked 200 CIOs how their roles were changing as a result of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act passed in Feb. 2009.

The results showed that 44 percent of CIOs encountered higher demand for their expertise over the past five years, with their workloads increasing anywhere between 25 to 50 percent. Approximately 48 percent of respondents viewed people skills and team management as their greatest strengths.

Participant Praveen Chopra, CIO of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital System, claimed that IT professionals are leveraging these factors to encourage the convergence of electronic health records, technology innovation, mobility and big data into a single platform. As a result, many of these experts are indoctrinating cloud servers into their network architectures.

"The future will require a different type of leadership from CIOs, who will become catalysts for business change and transformation well beyond just leading the alignment of business objectives with technology investments," Chopra told the source. 

Holding down the fort 
This shift in priorities is leading CIOs to view cloud infrastructure as a means for hospitals to expedite the delivery of information. When administrators, physicians, nurses and other professionals receive information quickly, they can assess patient issues much faster than through manual transmission processes. However, protecting such a flexible platform requires diligent consideration. 

According to MedCity News, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act is forcing hospitals throughout the United States to abide by regulations designed to ensure the confidentiality of patient records. Due to these standards and numerous security concerns, a lot of health care organizations were apprehensive of adopting cloud computing solutions. As a result, the majority of cloud hosting companies have undertaken the responsibility of securing the servers of their clients. 

In a study released in August 2013, health care technology developer Imprivata surveyed 211 IT leaders working at hospitals, clinics and other similar organizations. The company discovered that 30 percent of respondents noted that they utilize cloud computing, a 21 percent increase from 2012. About 40 percent claimed that they store protected health information in cloud servers, a clear sign that CIOs are feeling more confident in putting critical intelligence in off-premise architectures. 

Cloud developers are acknowledging the demand for the technology in the medical industry, constructing new defensive programs capable of monitoring data activity and deterring cyberattacks. 

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