News Feature | June 24, 2014

Healthcare Organizations Hosting Data Using SaaS Model

Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer

SaaS Data Hosting In Healthcare

HIMSS finds 83 percent of healthcare organization using cloud services and most plan on expanding use of it in the future.

As more and more healthcare providers adopt cloud services to host applications and data using a SaaS model, HIMSS Analytics released findings from the 2014 HIMSS Analytics Cloud Survey of healthcare organizations to determine what challenges, barriers, and successes they might be having with cloud services.

The survey found 83 percent of healthcare organizations currently use cloud services. Nearly half of these respondents are using the services to host clinical applications, with the majority hosting data using Software-as-a-Service models. Other key areas where respondents are adopting cloud capability include health information exchange, hosting human resources applications and data, and back up and disaster recovery.

Of the healthcare organizations surveyed that are currently using cloud services, almost all of them  expect to expand their use in the future, while two-thirds of those currently  not utilizing clouds have plans to start. Popular areas for expanded cloud use include hosting of archived data, back up and disaster recovery, and hosting of operational data.

While adoption plans might be in the sights of many organizations, only 4 percent of respondents not using the cloud have immediate plans to engage such services, and few of these organizations are presently in contract negotiations with a cloud services provider.

The key factors involved in the decision to adopt a cloud services provider include security issues, such as the physical or technical security of cloud services providers, and a cloud services provider’s willingness to enter into a business associate agreement.

Other key survey results include:

  • Cost was identified as a key driver for adopting cloud services. However, less than half of respondents reported getting the data needed from their cloud services provider to measure the value of cloud services.
  • Half of respondents working for healthcare organizations that use cloud services reported that their organization upgraded their network infrastructure and/or monitoring capabilities in order to implement cloud services.
  • Vendors can be doing a better job in meeting the needs of their healthcare clients. Approximately two-thirds of respondents reported challenges with their current cloud services provider(s). Most often, these challenges included lack of visibility into ongoing operations, customer service and costs/fees associated with the solution.
  • Half of respondents have experienced issues with their cloud service provider’s ability to meet promised 44service levels. The item most commonly identified as an issue was slow responsiveness to hosted applications and/or data.
  • Healthcare organizations are likely to attempt to remediate issues with their cloud services provider rather than making a decision to switch cloud services providers in the event that service level agreements are not met.

Few respondents reported that they would move away from their current cloud services provider in the event that promised service levels were not achieved. Instead, half of respondents indicated that their healthcare organization would either accept service level credits or give their cloud services provider another chance to perform satisfactorily, namely, meeting the promised service levels.

Not surprisingly, 75 percent of cloud-using respondents to the survey favor either a private cloud service or hybrid cloud services instead of a public cloud service. Only 6 percent of respondents indicated that their healthcare organization would not use cloud services in the future. And, nearly half of these respondents cited security concerns as a key factor keeping them from using cloud services.