LAS VEGAS—health care industry, historically slow to adopt new digital technology and to gain efficiencies from that technology, is starting to show signs of success with cloud computing.
That was one news item from Dell Technologies World this week, where Dell subsidiary Virtustream, an enterprise cloud services provider, announced that it is seeing traction in migrating electronic health record (EHR) systems to its year-old Virtustream Healthcare Cloud.
The company sited data from 451 Research that showed that IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) adoption in the health care sector rose from 23 percent the end of 2015 to 34 percent at the end of 2017.
That mirrors data from the HIMSS Healthcare Cloud Computing Survey, 2018, released at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society conference earlier this year, that show cloud adoption growing among small to midsize health care provider organizations (33 percent to 49 percent) and large provider organizations (19 percent to 35 percent).
Such results really shouldn’t be that surprising, considering that the EHR, data management and overall IT problems confronting the health care industry are tailor-made for what cloud computing can bring to the table, such as standard infrastructure, managed services, and data analytics.
“[Health care providers] are ready for cloud, but that is the part they struggle with,” said Tim Calahan, Director of Product Management for Virtustream Healthcare Cloud, in an interview here with eWeek. “This industry wants to move to the cloud, they just don't know how to do it in a secure and reliable way.”
Vertical industry success
Virtustream, which has built up its business by hosting large enterprise applications such as SAP in the cloud, has a proven track record in vertical industries, including government and financial services. Last year it built a special version of its Enterprise Cloud with security and compliance features that met HIPAA and HITRUST standards.
“Health care providers are telling us ‘We want options,’ and that is what we are giving them,” Calahan said.
Those options include the ability to run their medical record systems within Virtustream as a hosted or managed solution. Providers who already run applications within a VMware environment can migrate easily over to Virtustream.
So far, Virtustream’s business has been focused on working with users of EPIC, the market leader in medical record systems, but one that is notoriously the hardest system to implement. Still, Virtustream and is showing positive results in managing EPIC installations with less downtime than on-premises systems, officials said.
Virtustream is working cooperatively with EPIC in migrating some U.S. customers to the cloud. Whereas in Europe and other regions around the world, Virtustream gives EPIC a channel for regions where it has not established its own hosting service, Calahan said. Virtustream is planning to roll out support for other EHR leaders, including Cerner and MediTech, next year.
Going beyond cloud
As many enterprises undergoing digital transformation can attest, the cloud is just a first step into running a more intelligent and automated business. For instance, Virtustream offers analytical services that can look at medical record data to find opportunities to cut costs, improve care, reduce readmissions, and enable personalized treatments.
The offering is similar to what health care business intelligence company HealthCatalyst rolled out at HIMSS in the form of its Touchstone product.
Virtustream, along with another Dell unit, Boomi, which supplies data and application integration tools, are creating with the cloud a data abstraction layer that will enable health providers to get access to all of that data, without completely rearchitecting everything on premise.
“Everyone recognizes that health care is a bunch of data silos,” Calahan said. “We are helping break those down.”
Scot Petersen is a technology analyst at Ziff Brothers Investments, a private investment firm. He has an extensive background in the technology field. Prior to joining Ziff Brothers, Scot was the editorial director, Business Applications & Architecture, at TechTarget. Before that, he was the director, Editorial Operations, at Ziff Davis Enterprise. While at Ziff Davis Media, he was a writer and editor at eWEEK. No investment advice is offered in his blog. All duties are disclaimed. Scot works for a private investment firm, which may at any time invest in companies whose products are discussed in this blog, and no disclosure of securities transactions will be made.