Jim Archer is Vice President of Healthcare Solutions at Velocity. He has worked with many healthcare systems over the years to help transform their technology environments to better align with corporate objectives.
You are no doubt familiar with some of the common applications used in the cloud today, such as Dropbox for content storage or Spotify for music.  Other notable applications that have moved to the cloud include ERP financial and accounting applications, work force management solutions, and ePrescribe and imaging in the healthcare arena.  
The use of software applications in the cloud has moved mainstream, and the healthcare organizations I work with are similarly interested in the benefits the cloud has to offer.   
Some of the benefits of the cloud that particularly resonate with healthcare organizations include:
  • Fewer technology requirements to manage: You will no longer need as much hardware or physical plant space on premise if you move to the cloud. At Velocity, we also include ongoing hardware refresh and software upgrades as part of our services.
  • Increased scalability: Cloud enables healthcare organizations to deploy additional compute capacity quickly, so they can react swiftly to market changes. Mergers and acquisitions are a common use case where this level of flexibility has a significant impact on the business.
  • Decreased critical project timelines:  Accelerated technology deployment can reduce overall project costs and/or shorten time to value.  Now healthcare organizations can focus on adoption of electronic health records and acquisition of meaningful use dollars versus provisioning the underlying technology environment.  Many organizations that have an EHR solution in place have not fully completed the upgrade, as they still face daunting hardware and software expansions when managing systems on premise.  A cloud-based solution with reference architecture already designed to support your application can assist with this process. 
  • Reduced capital expenses: When in the cloud, you will not have to budget, plan, and invest in application infrastructure.  Cloud customers also experience additional efficiency as a result of the patches and ongoing support included in their systems management.
  • Greater business resiliency: Many healthcare organizations are concerned about the resiliency of their technology environment, but cannot afford the investments needed to achieve requisite service levels internally. Cloud provides ready access to sophisticated monitoring solutions, 24/7 management, and engineered solutions that cloud vendors can offer due to their scale. Additionally, you'll be able to address compliance considerations, including implementation of more effective disaster recovery plans or application platforms with built-in capabilities to support regulations, such as HIPAA. 
  • Minimized concerns around staffing: Technology staff within healthcare organizations are often stretched thinly.  Velocity has trained and certified functional and technical resources along with an Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) compliant help desk to serve as an extension of our customers’ teams and provide ready access to expertise when needed.
As with any change to the technology environment, healthcare organizations must set themselves up to fully realize the benefits of the change while mitigating potential risks.  We work with healthcare organizations every day to navigate through these questions, and have recently done a presentation on this topic that you can access here
Harnessed correctly, the cloud is enabling healthcare organizations to achieve long sought-after strategic objectives for less time, money, and risk—and the benefits of the cloud are well-worth making the move.