From telemedicine and virtual care to “hospital-at-home” programs, the healthcare industry implemented significant changes to adapt to evolving patient and workforce needs in the last two years. As the industry acclimates to and expands on these methods, it’s more important than ever for healthcare organizations to benefit from the flexibility and operational efficiency offered by a multicloud model. Afterall, per our research, multicloud has become the most commonly deployed IT model worldwide, with enterprises of varying industries and sizes utilizing it. The reality is, however, that the healthcare industry in particular is struggling to get its IT infrastructures up-to-date.
Findings from our fourth annual Healthcare Enterprise Cloud Index (ECI) revealed that 90 percent of healthcare IT respondents consider hybrid multicloud–an IT operating model with multiple clouds both private and public with interoperability between–their ideal model of choice. Despite this, the current adoption rate sits at 27 percent, with private cloud being the most common IT model for healthcare organizations. The burning question this leads to is: what’s stopping them? If multicloud is on the rise in other industries and desired by healthcare IT professionals, what’s holding them back from deploying it? The answer isn’t quite simple, but there are a few significant challenges healthcare organizations are up against:
The first hindrance to multicloud deployment is the very nature of the healthcare industry, which is highly regulated in terms of patient and data privacy. Complying with regulatory mandates, such as HIPAA, drives many deployment decisions and is likely a reason why healthcare IT professionals have been slower to place trust in public clouds and embrace it as a bonafide component of their IT environments. However, extending on-premises private clouds to one or more public clouds for appropriate use cases–including storing patient healthcare information–is a fundamental step toward creating a multicloud environment and gaining the flexibility to meet diverse needs as they arise and evolve.
Closely tied to strict privacy regulations is the concern over security that healthcare IT professionals face. Healthcare’s focus on security escalated during the pandemic, resulting in their IT departments spending more to strengthen it. In the last 12 months, 100 percent of ECI respondents moved one or more applications to a new IT environment—and 48 percent of respondents cited this move as a security measure. Though security concerns will undoubtedly remain paramount in the healthcare industry, the availability of hybrid multicloud solutions that enable organizations to centrally build and enforce top-down, cross-cloud security and compliance policies will eventually level the playing field to enable equally effective defenses independent of infrastructure.
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The IT skills gap
IT is currently facing a skills gap crisis across industries, and healthcare is no exception as 84 percent of ECI respondents said they lack IT skills to meet current business demand. In addition to needing on-staff IT skills to move regulated data from on-premises infrastructures to the cloud, IT must also have a deep understanding of how the cloud’s security configuration and enforcement practices differ greatly from traditional on-premises IT security practices (and among different public cloud providers). With a lack of the complex skills and understanding needed to transition to multicloud, many healthcare organizations have been slower to take the steps needed to get there.
Cost efficiency plays a huge role in the upgrades IT departments select—for them, cost savings are synonymous with resource optimization. From this, it’s no surprise that cost management is top-of-mind when exploring multicloud deployments: 80 percent of ECI respondents agreed that moving a workload to a new cloud environment can be costly while 48 percent of respondents also cited managing costs as a challenge. To modernize operations and drive new levels of efficiency, there are multiple paths healthcare IT can take as it adopts cloud technologies and cloud-centric operating models. Organizations are seeing significant cost savings with platforms that can deliver storage, compute, security, infrastructure management, and monitoring through virtualized architecture. In addition to selecting a cloud platform with these capabilities, another key is implementing smart strategies for cost governance and monitoring. Having clear visibility into the ongoing cost of each cloud is essential to avoiding unnecessary spending.
Though traditionally behind-the-scenes, IT departments at healthcare organizations are now at the forefront of business success as they have become critical drivers of both day-to-day and big picture operations since the onslaught of the pandemic. With future patient needs and preferences–along with the innovations that will be developed to meet them–being uncertain, it’s imperative that healthcare IT professionals adopt a hybrid multicloud IT infrastructure that spans a mix of private and public clouds with interoperability between. Healthcare IT professionals appear to agree with this sentiment despite the challenges they face as multicloud penetration is expected to nearly double in the next three years. While there may be a challenging road ahead, the payoff of multicloud will be worth it.