Wednesday, 18 April 2012 01:32

Healthcare industry gravitating to the cloud

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The Asia/Pacific region is yet to witness widespread adoption of cloud services in the healthcare industry, but the future looks rosy for cloud technology take up by the industry, according to a newly released market report.

Leading analyst firm, IDC Health Insights, reveals that, despite no widespread adoption to this point, the future does look promising for this 'disruptive technology'. In its just released survey of healthcare organisations in the Asia Pacific, IDC says that 69 percent of IT decision makers across the region indicated that they currently have budget assigned to cloud computing. The survey also found that in the next three years, none of the organisations have intentions to reduce cloud spending, while more than half of them have intentions to spend more.

According to Sash Mukherjee, senior market analyst for IDC Health Insights Asia/Pacific, the study yielded another interesting insight -- Asia/Pacific healthcare service providers are looking at cloud adoption beyond short-term benefits such as pay-per-use models, no implementation costs, and out-of-the-box features.
 
'The healthcare industry is waking up to the benefits of cloud architectures in solving their human resource issues, and helping them in their strategic business goals of improving patient satisfaction, clinical outcomes, and providing collaborative healthcare,' Mukherjee said.

While there are differences in the mindsets of the six countries surveyed, the overriding concern regarding cloud technology revolves around security and connectivity issues. However, smaller healthcare organisations that outsource their IT functions anyway, may in fact benefit from standardised cloud offerings that already have some compliance stamps.

The IDC study also showed that server and storage capacity on demand are the key areas of cloud uptake in the healthcare industry, which the analyst firm says reflects the huge volume of structured and unstructured data that patient-centric care generates. 'However, surprisingly, when it comes to industry-specific applications, picture archiving is not an area where cloud technology is being considered. Reflecting the increasing need for providing collaborative healthcare, solutions like electronic health records (EHR) and telemedicine are seeing increased cloud uptake,' Mukherjee observes.

However,  Mukherjee asserts that confusions abound in the region, especially when it comes to the 'suitability of the public, private or the hybrid cloud to specific IT functions.'

And, IDC suggests that to succeed in the healthcare market, cloud providers would have to dispel the 'misconceptions and confusions in the minds of end users', especially around security, and the relative advantages of private, public and hybrid clouds.

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Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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