Healthcare makes moves to the cloud

    Similar to the rest of the private sector, healthcare organizations need to keep pace with technological innovations or risk experiencing impaired productivity through the use of antiquated business phone systems and other collaborative tools. Unlike other private enterprises, however, hospitals and similar facilities have to meet strict compliance regulations or face substantial fines and other legal issues. For this reason, healthcare decision-makers need to tread carefully when selecting a new technology to use.

    Fortunately, cloud computing is able to meet stringent industry regulations without jeopardizing security, efficiency or collaboration. As a result, healthcare firms are beginning to migrate to the cloud to enhance operations.

    A report by Microsoft highlighted how hospitals around the United States are migrating to the cloud to be more appealing to next-generation caregivers. Because the rest of the private sector is well on its way into the cloud, the healthcare sector needs to play catch-up to stay relevant.

    "In general, hospitals tend to be behind in deploying new technologies," said Rick Allen, assistant vice president of information systems at Gwinnett Hospital System, according to Microsoft. "But we are competing for talent and new technologies help attract young employees."

    Hospitals are also leveraging the cloud to improve collaboration between individuals working inside the facility and those outside of the building. Because the cloud can be accessed anywhere, organizations from all industries can support a remote workforce without impairing overall operations or connectivity. This is imperative in the healthcare sector, as having the ability to communicate with other hospitals around the world can dramatically improve patient care.

    "Having the latest cloud technology that supports a wide range of clinical and business applications, user collaboration and needs and still helps ensure HIPAA security compliance enforcement tools is essential," said John Vorreiter, senior director of technical services at Kindred Healthcare Inc., according to Microsoft.

    The cloud and healthcare finally merge

    Although cloud services have been gaining momentum throughout the private sector, healthcare facilities have traditionally shied away from the technology due their industry's need to meet complex compliance requirements that were somewhat ambiguous in cloud environments. As the hosted services matured, however, it became clear that healthcare could also benefit from using the cloud.

    A report by CloudTweaks noted that collaboration is one of the biggest benefits associated with using the cloud in the healthcare sector. The hosted PBX system is an extremely scalable and flexible offering that allows organizations to easily manage intense traffic and support anywhere, anytime connectivity.

    Because the cloud also is enabled to work with mobile gadgets, hospitals and other businesses can embrace the bring-your-own-device phenomenon and other trends taking shape in the telecommunications industry, CloudTweaks stated. Rather than being tied down to deskphones, more physicians are realizing the benefits of leveraging personal smartphones and tablets in the workplace. As a result, a large number of firms are replacing their old phone systems with cloud technologies that are more agile and adaptable than the traditional PBX.

    As cloud services mature, they will become even more secure, making them a more acceptable technology in today's compliance-focused healthcare sector. However, not all clouds are created equal. For this reason, decision-makers need to take the time to assess their facilities' individual goals and align these demands with an appropriate cloud offering from a trusted provider.

    The cloud can be used for a number of reasons in the healthcare sector, though improving collaboration is often recognized as the top priority. By finding the right solutions, companies can ensure employees are able to communicate efficiently without worrying about connectivity problems.