Across the healthcare sector, we see significant momentum and interest in cloud as an essential enabler for business change. Digital technologies connect processes and services, enabling care professionals to better engage with their patients and colleagues. Then there is precision medicine, which is about using big data and analytics to drive better insight into health and disease, identify problems sooner and develop personalized care regimes. As populations continue to expand and grow older with more complex needs, the agility of cloud and its power to enable real-time data-sharing places it firmly on the critical path to enabling healthcare to shift to precision medicine. By 2027, the global healthcare cloud computing market is expected to reach $71 billion. In the past, organizations were hesitant to move to cloud because of their doubts about cybersecurity, data governance and return on investment. So, what’s changed and how can healthcare leaders best manage their own organization’s journey to cloud? Interoperability Interoperability remains a key ambition for healthcare. In recent years, the focus has been on the implementation and adoption of digital systems like electronic health records (EHRs), enterprise resource planning systems (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), and more. This is still important and difficult work, but the next challenge is moving beyond these silos and using data along the entire continuum of care, not just the current episode of care. Organizations will need to be able to analyze, model, report, and share insights – which is nearly impossible with traditional IT infrastructures and ways of working. Cloud is now an important enabler of essential interoperability across all systems, organizations, and stakeholders. Quality of care EHRs are now proven to bring significant opportunities for improved quality of care; telehealth and Digital Front Doors improve access to that care and simplify administration. Healthcare organizations are deriving immense value by moving from paper to electronic; however, they are still far from achieving their goals of quality, safety and service delivery efficiencies. Aligning an organization’s cloud strategy with initiatives that drive better care will ensure long-term value. The opportunities to underpin this with cloud-based solutions are vast: Increased access to healthcare records for patients Improved patient experience from check-in to check out Consumer wearable devices, patient engagement, and EHR access Focus on data analytics and insights across the continuum of care Increased use of virtual care/telehealth Accelerator of medical research Real-time collaboration among clinicians around the world Payer and provider collaboration for chronic disease management Greater collaboration both within teams but also with patients and carers In recent years, the focus has been on the implementation and adoption of digital systems like electronic health records (EHRs), enterprise resource planning systems (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), and more. This is still important and difficult work, but the next challenge is moving beyond these silos and using data along the entire continuum of care, not just the current episode of care. Accelerating innovation Cloud, quite simply, accelerates innovation: the agility, flexibility, and computing power it offers enable faster introduction and evolution of entirely new ways of working, delivering services and sharing data. It also promotes closer collaboration between providers, patients, payers, and life science organizations. Hybrid cloud services combine the scale and efficiencies of the public cloud with the security and control of private cloud and on premises services. Healthcare organizations’ IT functions can leverage services from public cloud providers to make application development faster and more robust. Having access to so much more data means they can now utilize machine learning and artificial intelligence to make informed clinical and management decisions. Reducing security risks associated with cloud According to the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA), security remains the biggest concern for healthcare leaders considering a cloud initiative. The top two challenges organizations face regarding faster cloud adoption are the lack of visibility (53%) and control (46%). Public cloud providers have started addressing numerous security concerns using advanced technologies and management of the public cloud. Many would argue that the cloud offers more security than ever with the proper security measures in place. However, healthcare companies must focus on internal security vulnerabilities that could derail their cloud program. Legacy technology: Healthcare organizations struggle to secure the budget needed to replace legacy infrastructure. Cloud providers utilize the latest technology and proactively replace technology, making it easier to patch and maintain. The use of cloud also reduces capital expenditure requirements, freeing capital for other business initiatives. Technical expertise: Healthcare organizations are an attractive target for cyberattacks. Many organizations don’t have sufficient expertise and resources to keep up with security. Cloud security providers have dedicated, specialized teams to secure their data. Fewer vulnerabilities: Healthcare organizations are more likely to have multiple vulnerabilities and have fewer resources to identify and test for vulnerabilities. Cloud providers have the resources and time to test their systems regularly. Healthcare companies can hire services of external experts to identify potential misconfigurations within the customer’s infrastructure and remediate them. Disaster recovery: Working with a cloud partner to define protocols for disaster recovery saves time and critical resources within a healthcare organization. However, it is important to note that patient data always remains the healthcare organization’s responsibility, not the cloud provider’s. In any situation, healthcare providers must ensure that data on the cloud is secured and that only the right people can access it. Strategic assessment and planning There have been significant advances in private and public offerings in the cloud market. Public cloud providers have invested significantly in capabilities explicitly designed for healthcare companies. With a broader set of mature offerings, it’s easier for healthcare organizations to choose the blend of cloud services that’s right for them. An organization must understand and assess its particular context and requirements. Strategic planning is one of the essential steps to ensure that organizations maximize their long-term value from cloud. It involves identifying organizational goals, assessing and committing the required resources, and identifying the most appropriate cloud partners who can work to understand the specific requirements. Once these strategic conditions are satisfied, healthcare companies are ready to begin their cloud journey. Healthcare leaders have been and are still questioning whether cloud delivers true value. However, like any investment into technology, strategic planning, implementation, business process change, training and management are critical to driving actual outcomes. What is certain is that healthcare is moving to cloud – and is discovering more value and mitigating more risks and it continues this journey.